Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Late Summer Flowers Are An Ossais in the Dearth

Preparing for winter and surviving the summer dearth can be challenging for hives.  Hives have to conserve resources and try to find as much food as they can all while trying to avoid predators.  Yellow jackets circle around hives this time of year like sharks, waiting for a weak bee to fall to the ground or get knocked off balance while entering the hive.  Dry soils also make finding nectar rich flowers a challenge and bees need to visit more flowers to find food.  All of this is happening while hives are raising bees that will need to survive months until spring rather than a few mere weeks which makes good nutrition even more important.

Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' is a desirable pollen and nectar source.

Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin) is a nectar source.

Fireweed is a great nectar source if you have a lot of it around.

Heather is in bloom and a nectar source.

Sunflowers are a good pollen and nectar source.

Knotweed is a good nectar source if you have any around.  This is usually a #1 suspect to eradicate on noxious weed lists.

Calendula officinalis is easy to grow and attractive to the girls.

Oregano is still blooming in some areas and covered in bees.

Borage is an excellent nectar source.

Mint is a good nectar source.

I don't often use cell phone camera pictures because the dimensions don't layout as nicely on the page, but it seems like the bees were posing for me so here are a few I snapped recently.

Dahlia flowers can be attractive to pollinators if you get the right varieties.  If you can, resist getting the ones that are all petals and try to select varieties where you can see the pollen.  I snapped this photo because of the mostly black honey bee next to what I would say was an typical Italian breed of honey bee.  I have one hive with a small percentage of dark bees like this but on average Carniolan bees look more like the bee in the second Dahlia picture.

Another Dahlia photo with a metallic green bee and a Carniolan looking bee in flight.

Zinnia is a popular nectar source.

This huge Artichoke flower is easily a feast for multiple bees at once.

Chitalpa tashkentensis 'Pink Dawn' can be a good nectar source.

Hive Checks (8/3/2014)
They have gone through the 1/2 gallon of syrup I gave them in the last few days.  It looked like they had mostly transferred the syrup into existing comb and they have built a new half comb in the last week.  No signs of eggs yet, but I did see the queen and she looked large and ready to start laying any day now.  Will keep the syrup on in an effort to help them build comb and build up.

If nothing else she is a good sized queen.

Hive Checks (8/9/2014)
This new queen has a tight broodnest across three frames.  The queen looked good and they were making good use of the pollen and bee bread I gave them.  I would expect the first of the new bees to be emerging this week.

The new queen.

Brood pattern looks pretty good for a smaller sized hive.

Like Solis this hive has multiple frames of capped worker brood now as well.  The pattern is solid and I even saw a few newly emerged bees (mostly light colored).  I'll have to do some balancing next inspection to give the weaker hive a boost.  Between the two hives there is enough food for winter at the moment and the challenge will be to raise enough winter bees to make it till next spring.

Nice brood pattern.

The queen is looking good.

I posted previously about how I saw a higher percentage of bees requesting to be cleaned in this hive than what I see in my other hives.  A commenter asked what this looked like and I thought that it was a great question, but it's not easy to describe so here is a video.  What you are looking for is the bee vibrating in place and not dancing in any direction or pattern.

In case the embedded video doesn't show up (I'm pretty sure it doesn't in email) I also posted the link to YouTube here: Cleaning dance

Ballard daughter
Saw the new queen and she is a tad darker than her mother.  She still has that young queen look but she doesn't seem to be wasting any time either and had laid a nice cluster of eggs and there were even a few 1-2 day old larvae. So that means she started laying on 8/4 and since the split was done on 7/12 that gives us 22 days, or 15 to emerge and 7 to mate and start laying.

I like to see a large group of bees form around queens when they pause like this and tells me she is a desirable queen.

Hive Checks (8/10/2014)
I'm going to call the swarm from the Rosemary hive Rose because the landed next to an old climbing rose.  I gave them two frames of pollen and beebread I stole from the Rebel hive and have been adding syrup to help them build up resources.  I was quite surprised to see that they already had capped brood.  I'd say it was maybe 2-3 days into having been capped as well.  Doing the bee math this is quite an impressive turnaround.  Split on 7/13 and capped brood lets say in the last 2 days which means that eggs were being laid around 8/1 or just 4 days after the swarm.  She is definitely ahead of the curve compared to what I've seen from other hives this year.  Perhaps that is being driven by the urgency to buildup before winter and the fact that every day counts.

The queen is looking good and also well liked.

Rosemary daughter
This is the sister hive to Rose and while they aren't as far along as the Rose hive there was a good amount of young brood coming and just a few cells that looked like they were a few days away from getting capped.  I thought the Ballard daughter hive was being quick when I looked at them yesterday but these two queens are both a few days ahead of their pace.

A good looking light colored queen.

Hive Checks (8/15/2014)
Ballard Nuc
Upon opening this hive my first thought was, hey they aren't dead.  I did see a few bees with DWV, but overall the larvae looked healthy and there were a lot of young healthy bees.  It looks like the split gave them the boost they needed, and helped pull them out of the DWV issue that was starting to take hold.  There is a lot of brood on the way and a lot of young bees in the hive.  Hopefully they can make the most of fall nectar and pollen sources.  Stores were low and I likely will have to give them a frame of honey.

Still going her usual slow pace.

The hive looked like it was in good shape and the broodnest and honey arches looked good.  I also now know which hive the completely black bees are coming from (they look like the bee pictured earlier in the Dahlia photo)!  The make up maybe 1-2% of the overall population but they are impressive to see especially with bright yellow and orange pollen baskets.

This big queen is still going strong.

Hive Checks (8/18/2014)
Rosemary Nuc
The nuc is doing well and the queen has been busy.  The frames are crammed with bees and there is plenty of brood on the way.  Honey stores are still a little light.

Scriber Creek
Similar to the Rosemary nuc there is a lot of brood coming and frames have good honey arches, however there is not much surplus anywhere for winter.  They are going full steam ahead through this dearth and are burning stores which is more typical of what you would see with Italian strains for this time of year.

Another shot of Borage that captures late summer well.

Back to the bees,

- Jeff