Weighing Down Hives

I know some new beekeepers in eastern Newfoundland who read Mud Songs from time to time. If you’re reading this around 1pm on Friday, now would be a good time to weigh down your hives if you haven’t done so already.

According to the CBC, Hurricane Maria should smack into us right about now with winds around 120km/h (75mph), plus a whole lotta rain. My hives are well protected from the wind and have weathered through worse storms than this. But if your hives are out in the open, you might want to take some precautions.

No Sandal Zone

Today’s tip for backyard beekeepers: Don’t wear sandals.

The bees in our backyard fly around our raised beds to drink water from lettuce leaves and soak up moisture from the black composted soil. They also wander around the grass here and there, grass we don’t bother to mow, and so it’s easy for the bees to inadvertently crawl onto our feet while we’re standing there digging the weeds in the garden. And if I’m wearing sandals, it’s easy for a bee to get stuck under a strap, freak out and sting me. The pain from a honey bee sting isn’t too bad compared to most stinging insects. But when they first get you, it hurts. One of them got me about five minutes ago.

Falling Short of My Ideals

I’m still in my first year of beekeeping and I’m learning a lot. And I suspect one of the reasons I’m learning a lot is that I don’t follow many of the more widely accepted practices that make beekeeping easier. First up are the Backwards Beekeepers out of Los Angeles, California, who have been my number one inspiration from the get-go. They advocate the use of foundationless frames, natural re-queening and starting hives from feral swarms that are better adapted to the local environment than imported queens. Let the bees be bees because they know what they’re doing better than any humans. I love what the Backwards Beekeepers are all about, but it would be foolish of me to think my bees could do as well with 1,500 hours of sunshine a year as theirs do with 3,000 hours of sunshine (and much higher temperatures). And that’s just one of the stumbling blocks. I will continue to follow their example as well as I can, but they present an ideal that I seriously doubt I will ever be able to live up to in St. John’s, Newfoundland, given the severity of our local climate. (I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post.)

Another ideal I realize that I can’t stick to 100% is the use of a spray bottle instead of a smoker.

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Honey Bees in Flight (Video)

Here’s some video I shot yesterday while taking photos of the bees flying around Hive #2. Not the most exciting video, perhaps, but it does demonstrate the difference between Hive #2 and Hive #1, which we thought was queenless (and who knows, still could be).


THE 480p HIGHER DEFINITION SETTING MAY PROVIDE SMOOTHER PLAYBACK.

I just noticed two bees fighting it out (at the 1:16 mark) on the bottom board and then falling off the edge. September is fighting month for the honeybees.
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Prop Up a Weak Colony, Or Not?

We have two honey bee colonies in our backyard, both started from nuc boxes 35 days ago and housed in Langstroth hives. Hive #1 has been fed a water-sugar mixture just about every day (with some honey mixed in for the first three weeks). We added a second brood box a week ago because 9 of the 10 frames in the hive were partially or fully drawn out — the colony was ready to expand.

Hive #2 wasn’t fed until the second week, but for the past week has had two Boardman feeders installed. It doesn’t get as much late-afternoon sun as Hive #1, and the last time we checked a couple days ago, only seven, maybe eight frames had partially or fully drawn out comb on them. (We also pulled a huge ugly slug from the bottom of the hive the same day.)

Those are the differences between Hive #1 and Hive #2. Here’s a quick video I shot today that illustrates the differences:


THE 480p HIGHER DEFINITION SETTING MAY PROVIDE SMOOTHER PLAYBACK.
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