It was only about 7°C in the backyard today (45°F), but it was enough for the bees in Hive #2 to bring in some pollen for the first time this year.
I’ve embedded a slide show below, but to really get in and see the individual specs of pollen on the bees and their fuzzy little hairs, go to my Picasa page, click on the first photo in the series and click through them individually. The details in the close-up photos always show up better on the actual Picasa page. Continue reading →
I know it isn’t always too exciting, but one of the purposes of this website is to document anything new we haven’t seen before and to take note of when certain things happen so that we, as novice beekeepers stumbling through all this mostly on our own, will have a reference for next year’s beekeeping. We don’t have access to any kind of beekeeping association that might allow us to compare notes with other beekeepers in Newfoundland — because there is no association, and there aren’t many beekeepers either. So just for our records, here’s a short video of the bees flying around our backyard today about an hour after I removed some useless top hive feeders and replaced them with inverted jar feeders sheltered (with insulation) inside some medium supers. This video constitutes part two of Spring Bees in Flight.
I enjoy trying to photograph the bees in flight. It’s not easy.
Both hives went wild about an hour after I added the inverted jar feeders today and the temperature went up to about 10°C. It’s the thickest I’ve seen the bees this year. I’ll post a video as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s the slideshow: Continue reading →
NOTE (March 16/14):The following has been updated more than once since it was originally posted. The updates appear near the bottom. The title of the post has been changed to reflect the reality of what he had to deal with. Both of the top hive feeders leaked all over the hives and the bees. We had to switch to inverted jar feeders instead. It was the messiest biggest headache of our beekeeping experience so far. We have no love for hive top feeders.
It was about 7°C in the backyard today. The weather forecast doesn’t call for much rain and the temperatures are supposed to be well above freezing all week. So we decided to add top hive feeders to both hives, filling up one side of each feeder with about 8 litres of syrup (a little over 2 US gallons). But first we modified the feeders by stapling screens to the reservoirs:
The honey bee colony in our Hive #1 chewed out and discarded most of its drone papae and then shut down so early and so fast last September (compared to Hive #2 that kept going strong for another few weeks), we thought maybe the queen was dead. Seeing how the same colony is now the first to come back to life this spring, I suspect its bees have mostly Carniolan genes — cold-climate honey bee genes. I’ve read that Carniolans are more sensitive to environmental changes and behave exactly in this manner. The bees in Hive #2, on the other hand, foraged and took up syrup well into October last fall, but are showing hardly any signs of life now, which coincides with what I’ve read about Italian honey bees. They go as long as they can in the fall, but supposedly have a harder time coping with long cold winters and mild wet springs (like we have in Newfoundland). None of this is necessarily correct. But seeing how our first year of beekeeping is often a guessing game for us, I’ve expressed my best guesses to explain the differences in the behaviour of our two honey bee colonies. They definitely do not behave the same.
Here’s a long boring video of the bees in Hive #1 from earlier today. It shows them coming and going through the bottom entrance. The entrance reducer was removed only while I sat and watched them for about 30 minutes. There’s not much to see in the video, no special behaviour, nothing much except for the last few seconds (the 4:22 mark) when a worker bees pulls out one of her comrades who didn’t make it through the winter. That’s it. Jenny and I are extremely pleased that they’re so alive.
I officially declare April 9th, 2011, as The First Day of Spring in our backyard. March 20th was technically the first day of spring, but that’s a joke, especially in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where it’s been cold or snowing pretty much every day since then (we got more snow last night). Although our backyard is still wet and slippery with the white stuff, the honey bees in Hive #1 are back in business and flying all around like it’s the middle of summer again. So that’s good enough for me. I’m going with that as the first sign of spring instead of waiting around for the first dandelion blossoms (who knows how long that would be). (Update: It was May 17th.)
The following was originally posted on November 23rd, 2010, and updated regularly to document our wonderful winter so we’d have a guide for next year’s winter weather conditions. I may add one or two more photos once all the snow is completely melted. But this is the end of it. Winter is DONE.
Here’s quick video of the honey bees in our backyard doing the Nasonov Boogie. Yesterday I said, “The sound of the bees scenting was intense, like the sound of tiny little chain saws.” Check it out:
The end of the video when it goes back to normal speed may not be 100% normal speed. I can tell by the way the sound began to flange. At any rate, during the slow-mo section, you can almost see the wings beating. I was able to slow it down even further on my computer, but the wings beating still only showed up as a blur. They crank it up a notch when they’re fanning like that.
Anyway, the pheromone is also used to orient the bees to food and water sources, but this early in the year when snow is still on the ground (it snowed again today) and 15°C is not a daily occurrence, I’d say it’s mostly for orientating the young foraging bees on their maiden flights.
The Nasonov gland at the tip of the honey bee’s abdomen releases a pheromone that helps foraging bees orient themselves to the hive. The pheromone was so thick in the air today, I could smell it an arm’s length from the hives. I took plenty of photos.
It went up to 2°C today and a few bees were flying around, so I quickly opened each hive and gave them what I have decided is absolutely their last feeding for the winter. I got it all on video but was by myself and didn’t have time to take any careful photos. All I got was this — Hive #1 after adding another candy cake and another pound of pollen patties:
Hive #1 was crowded with bees on top (both of them were). It seemed to have plenty of sugar left, though not much pollen. Hive #2 wasn’t a pretty sight when I opened it up. I’ll talk about that after the video. Continue reading →