As soon as we arrived at the farm on Friday, the hummingbirds started chattering and darting around the almost empty feeder. We originally thought there was one pair nesting close to our RV, but there are far more than that. We so enjoyed watching their antics just a few steps away from our porch that I bought two more feeders on Saturday. We put them out as soon as we returned home, but the hummingbirds were clearly distrustful of the new feeders Saturday evening. I hoped to see hummingbirds on every feeder Sunday morning, but our bees renamed them bee feeders! I guess hummingbird syrup is just as sweet as sugar water! It didn’t matter to the bees that they have their very own 5 gallon bucket of sugar water just around the corner from the hives or that they were uninvited guests at the RV. I initially thought there was a mosquito in the RV when I was making coffee, but it turned out to be the bees we could hear buzzing around outside talking about these new red, plastic flowers that appeared overnight! They then moved right in and chased the hummingbirds away. However, they were unable to reach the nectar in one feeder once all the spilled sugar water was gone, so they eventually moved away and left that one for the birds.
However, they very quickly took ownership of the new feeder with a flat top. Not only did they clean up leaking syrup from a gap between the lid and the top, they were able to stick their probosces through the holes and drink to their hearts’ content. They were still their guzzling away when we left at lunchtime. Luckily for the hummingbirds, no bees or wasps were interested in the 99 cent feeder, so the birds ended up with two feeders to fight over. And fight they did. I’ve always wondered how hummingbirds survive when they seem to spend more time being territorial than drinking. There are four perches on the original feeder — why can’t they just get along and hang out together?
The bees in the city and at the farm continue their feeding frenzy on the buckets and manage to drink 5 gallons of sugar water a day. It’s amazing to see; I equate it to scenes of mall doors opening on Black Friday. A year ago I would have found it terrifying to watch, but now I know they are more interested in food than in me and the biggest danger comes from standing in the flight path of a highly focused bee! The bees are also bringing back more pollen than a couple of weeks ago and the queens are laying eggs again in both locations. The first Goldenrod flowers opened at the farm over the weekend, so the bees will soon have plenty of natural food. I haven’t seen any Goldenrod around here yet, but it can’t be far behind.
Why do we feed bees? Well, they would normally just stop reproducing at times like this when resources are scarce, and we are trying to increase our bee numbers before the final strong pollen and nectar flow occurs in fall. We were able to move two hives from 5 frame Nucs to 10 frame hives on Saturday, and did the same to two growing hives at one of our outyards one (very hot) day last week. If we can move into this time that resources are available with newly founded hives, they will have time to store supplies to get them through most of the winter. They more they can store, the less we have to feed them over winter, and the more food they have in December, the faster our bee numbers will grow in spring. Our focus so far has been in growing the number of bees. In spring, we’ll focus on bee growth in some locations and honey in others.
|Bees drinking on flat hummingbird feeder.|