Bees · Supplemental Feeding

Division feeder

Last week, we installed a division feeder in my English hive.    When I checked the hive yesterday, the feeder was empty.   Some must have evaporated as the ladders don’t quite reach the bottom, but the bees drank a gallon of nectar.   It was easy to remove the cap and ladder to check and refill the feeder.  (The cap and ladder we have is a wooden block with ladders similar to the ones in the link, but I’m not sure where hubby bought them.)  We like the idea of feeding just our bees and this seems to work better than the bucket feeders on top of frames.   There were no drownings, and that’s always a good thing.   It would be interesting to know how long it takes a hive to drink a gallon, but I don’t want to disturb the hive too often to check.  Regardless, we were putting out 5 gallons of syrup every two days and feeding every bee in the neighborhood with the exterior feeders.

It’s hard to tell how much nectar the bees pulled from the feeder and how much they are finding on their own as there are clear signs that we are exiting the summer dearth, but the bees sure did fill a lot of frames in just one week.   It doesn’t seem to be enough yet to inspire growth — there are still new larvae present, but not in great numbers.   There was a lot of capped brood in our one large hive — they are ramping up and producing some drones again, but nothing like we saw in spring.

Hubby is out inspecting our other big hive right now, but I am staying indoors and nursing my mixture of ant bites, mosquito bites, and bee stings from this week!    An oatmeal bath followed by application of lavender essential oil finally stopped the itching.  The fire ant bites are the worst, but the fire ants are also the easiest to deal with!    After an application of Amdro, there are no more fire ants in front of the English hive, so neither the dog nor I need to worry about watching the bees go about their day.   It may be a good thing that the dog no longer wants to sit in front of the hive — if it prevents her from getting stung again, I’ll suck up the bites on my feet.

The two big hives are jam-packed, so we made some splits this morning.   We already had some bees in the queen castle, but they never managed to produce a queen that we could find.  There was some uncapped brood in there, but no young brood.  We moved the frames with resources over to a nuc and added some brood from the other hive and then created one more nuc.   We’ll move those nucs out to the out-yards one evening this week and hopefully get new queens soon.

It’s hard to be so far from the farm for so long and not know what the bees, trees, grass, and flowers are up to in our absence.   Those bees were pulling in nectar from the woods three weeks ago, and we left them with room to grow.  It will be exciting to see what they are up to!

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