Thursday, August 9, 2012

Essential Oils of Summer

It's starting to feel like summer here and several favorites of the bees have started blooming... herbs.  Herbs are part of Mother Natures medicine cabinet and they can provide essential nutrients in their nectar that other plants lack.  This abundance in different food sources gives the girls more variety in their diet which results in healthier bees that are better prepared for the cold winter.  A few herb gardens here and there can also add subtle notes to the honey that is lacking from hives that primarily work large mono crops.

Drinking nectar from Mint.

Another girl on the Mint.

Looking into a ruffled Dahlia bloom.

The Asters are starting to bloom.

Pollen from a Butterfly Bush.

Fennel blooming.

Nectar from Oregano.

For feeding the Queen Castles I've come up with a new idea instead of syrup.  I'm calling it Snow Ball Feeding, because that's what it looks like.  Basically I mix sugar with just enough water that I can make a ball out of it and then put the balls in the nucs.  It shouldn't cause robbing because there is still work to process it, but will provide food for the bees that is pretty much ready to go.  The girls were all over them as soon as I put them into the hive, and I haven't seen any signs of robbing yet so I think they are a success.  Now to determine how fast they are going through them.

Hive checks (8/5/2012)

The hive is in the same state as last week and I powder sugared again.  I'm thinking that I will move the queen into a nuc next week now that I have space in the queen castles.

These girls are doing great.  They sucked down the syrup and started back-filling the brood nest with syrup and nectar.  I gave them old comb from the Queen Castles so the queen can keep laying.  I want to make a few nucs from them soon.

Ballard Swarm
They have two partial combs built, but no signs of a queen.  Added a frame of brood from the Icons.

Engineer Queen In Nuc
They have a little brood but are being a bit too conservative right now.  Added syrup to see if it stimulates them.

Northgate Swarm
The girls are pissy so left them alone this week.

Queen Castle 1
Slot 1
Saw the new queen and she's a black beauty.  She is most likely from the Geek queen, but slight possibility form the Librarian hive.

She reminds me of the Icon queen.

Slot 2
No signs of a queen and shook them out.

Slot 3
Queen looks great, but no signs of eggs yet.

Slot 4
No signs of a queen and shook them out.

Queen Castle 2
Slot 1
No inspection.

Slot 2
No signs of a queen, but they seemed clam and strong.  I'll give them another week.

Slot 3
No signs of a queen and shook them out.

Slot 4

I ran across several more Catalpa trees in bloom this week.  It was odd seeing more of these trees just starting to bloom when I thought they were done a few weeks ago.  The micro climates on the hill definitely have the advantage of staging how plants bloom so you have more overlap and variety at any given time.  I also walked by a block of Sweet Chestnut trees that were just finishing their bloom cycle and there was pollen everywhere.  Sweet Chestnuts produce both pollen and nectar for the bees and I'll have to remember to check them next year for activity.  I'm thinking that might have been the destination of the bee-line I came across last week as well.  I noticed several dragonflies in the area that were probably wondering where all the easy food went.

Catalpa bloom.

Back to the bees.

- Jeff

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