Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ooops Sorry!

I think I must have been a bit careless with the last lot of sugar syrup I added.

I added the syrup last Thursday, and over the weekend I found that the bag had split and the contents of a  very full zip-loc bag spilled out over the feeder bottom and sadly drowned quite a few bees. I hope no major damage has been done.

Anyway I gave the bees some more 2:1 tonight and I hope things will get back to normal soo.  I really need to check to see how much in the way of stores there now is. Perhaps the weather this weekend will be kind.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Goth" Bees?

The girls are still going strong.  I haven't stopped plying them with sugar. OK, so I realised that I got my sugar mix wrong and they have been taking too dilute a syrup.  If I read my instructions properly I would have seen it should have been two four pound bags of sugar per four pints of water (4kgs/2litres - ish)  Muggins here was only giving them four pounds per 4 pints of water (2kgs/2litres). Doh! 

The gratifying thing is that at least they've been packing this weak solution away, but they have had to work hard to de-humidify it - sorry girls!

Anyway, despite my crap chemistry, I looked in the hive yesterday lunchtime to see just what they have done with all the sugar (currently about 18 litres of syrup) and where they have put it.  Well the answer is that they have practically filled the top hive box! Only a little while ago (about 2 weeks) it was pretty empty. Now all 9 frames in the box are nearly full - a minimum of 80%.  Interestingly, the frames in the bottom box remain empty of anything - brood, honey, pollen. At least from what I can see. But a lot of bees are crawling pver the frames - perhaps there is no room upstairs what with all the syrup stored?

Slightly more concerning however, is the fact that, alhough I was looking for her, I did not find my Queen. I'm no expert on bee husbandry or in bee psycology (or whatever it takes to know what they do), but my girls do not look, or appear to be acting without a purpose, and they are not just going through the motions without any care for themselves.  I mean they've not turned into "Goth" bees, so I think Queenie must be there somewhere keeping the bonds tight.  She may not be laying right now (it is winter afterall) but I reckon she is there, somewhere.

If she wasn't around would the others have left? Would they have been bothered to store anything? Without a Queen why would they bother? What would they have to gain? All they would be doing would be expending a lot of energy only to die off without raising another generation of bees.  I think if I were in their situation, with no future, I'd be partying until I dropped!  Mmmmm, lots of unanswered questions!

Anyway, what to do?  I think nothing is the best thing - always consider the "do nothing" option I say!  It's probably too cold, or too late, to replace the Queen if she has gone, and there would be no guarantee another would survive being introduced. So, if she died we would be back to where we started from. If she was there all along I would probably have just aggrovated the hive, for no reason. Either way, at this time of year when the queen is not laying, what would we achieve? I'll do nothing for a while.  Hopefully if we get another warm day I'll find her and we'll all be good!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"London Girls" - with apologies to David Bowie

Sorry David, but forget your London Boys, it's the London Girls who are really kicking the scene now! 

Yes I know that it is Fortnum & Mason's who are featured, so it is likely to be over-priced honey.  But, the main thing is that urban beekeeping is becoming more widely understood, and accepted. Thanks to the Guardian for this video...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Still Hungry!

In the last week I have given the girls about 11 litres of 2:1 sugar syrup!

That's about 2.5 litres each on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and again today!....The last two times I used  a 1 gallon (3.75 Litre) a zip-loc bag.  This worked a treat - no mess and no dead bees.  When I looked today there was probably about 1/2 to 1 litre of syrup still in the bag.  I don't know if the bees have enough syrup now or if they simply don't find the syrup as easy to get at in the bag.

I'll leave it a fews days before I check again, and maybe next weekend I'll see how much in the way of stores they have accummulated.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hungry Girls!

Wow!  I reckon they must have been starving!  The 3 litres (or thereabouts) of syrup I gave them on Saturday was all gone by the time I looked this afternoon.  Gone in about 2 days!  There were a few dead bees in the bottom of the feeder - I guess drownings.  Anyway I have added some more syrup (again about 3 litres), so I had better check this on Wednesday!

I scooped out as many bees as I could before putting on the inner cover.  I think they can find their way past the inner cover so I hope I will not get too many casualties.  If I do, I may have to come up with another feeding solution. A closed ziploc bag containing syrup may be worth a try. Of course I will pierce the bag so that the syrup can be reached by the bees.

Anyway I hope it is the bees eating the syrup - either that or the feeder is leaking. I did look but couldn't see any leakage at the bottom of the hive. I'm guessing that if they are this hungry I may need to get some protein in them as well.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


It seems it's been a poor September, at least as far as nectar flows are concerned.  Other bees out there are also finding food a bit of a problem, so mine are not alone.  Funny really, as the rest of the year was so good for nectar and honey.  Anyway feeding seems the order of the day. Eugene is feeding 4 of his 6 hives - so that is comfort of some sort!

OK, I looked in the hive yesterday and removed the Hive Beetle trap and I inserted the entrance reducer (to the medium entrance). Anyway I am a bit confused by what I saw.

The top hive box has about 4 frames (equivalent) of honey in it but I did not really notice how much pollen - I forgot to look hard for this. There was some capped brood, but I forgot to look for larvae and eggs which I regret now as I did not see my queen.

More confusing is the bottom box. Although all but half of one frame is built out with comb, there is virtually nothing else going on. All cells that I saw (and I did not remove all the frames) were empty of honey, pollen, brood. I'm not sure what this means, if anything, but I am a bit confused. Anyway I added a feeder and gave the bees about 3 litres of 2:1 syrup. And I asked Eugene for his advice!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Well tomorrow, if the weather holds, I will take a look to see how much honey the bees have stored and I'll decide whether I need to feed them.  I am farily confident the girls have been busy and I will not have to feed them up - at least not yet. But it's prudent to take a look.  Eugene has given me a few pointers so I will bear these in mind - one box worth of honey in the top and the brood cells in the bottom.  I'll also take the opportunity to clear out the hive beetle trap and to re-insert the entrance reducer - perhaps not all the way to the smallest opening but I will reduce it to the middle one at least.

Then I suppose if all is well I'll start some winter maintenance - painting the supers and even ordeing a new hive!!