Bees Need Water Too

You may not realize it, but bees need water too.  They will seek out water sources close to their hive. They use water to cool the hive on hot days, to dilute honey and to help with digestion and metabolizing their food. Luckily, I have a pond with a waterfall in my front yard that the bees congregate to during the day.

Bees drinking water along the edge of my pond.

Bees-Drinking-Water-2Bees drinking water along the edge of my pond.

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Here they are at the top of the waterfall. When the pump is off, water gathers at the top making it easy for the bees to drink.

Here is a video of them flying all around the pond while the waterfall is turned off.

Spring Splits

We have been busy with life and our bees the past few weeks and I realized I haven’t posted on my blog in a while (shame on me).  We had been preparing and building up our hives for splits and swarm prevention and everything went well. All the splits are doing great and we prevented swarming.

Getting our equipment ready.

Getting some of our equipment ready.

Grabbing a frame with plenty of brood.

Grabbing a frame with plenty of brood.

Grabbing a frame full of pollen, which serves as food for the brood.

Grabbing a frame full of pollen, which serves as food for the brood.

Splitting-hives

Going through the hives looking for good frames to use in the splits.

More hives, more frames.

More hives, more frames.

Providing additional nutrition with bee patties.

Providing additional nutrition with bee patties.

Finally, new nucs ready to go.

Finally, new nucs ready to go.

 

Wasp Versus Bees

Bees protect their hive, just like humans protect their home. Upon opening one of our hives for inspection, a wasp flew into the hive. The pictures tell the story, the wasp did not stand a chance.

Wasp_1

Wasp_2

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Wasp_4

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Supersedure Cells

Supersedure is the natural way of re-queening.  The bees replace an existing queen with a new queen in the same hive.  There are many reasons that this can happen, some of the most common reasons are:

  • the queen is old
  • the queen is not laying eggs properly
  • the queen may be sick
  • the queen is physically damaged
  • the queen is not producing enough pheromones anymore

Supersedure cells will often be in the middle of a frame, not at the bottom of a frame like you would see with swarming.

In our case we believe the bees sensed the queen was getting old (she is over a year old now) and decided they needed to replace her with a younger queen.

It was truly a sad sight to see our good old queen right next to the cells of the queens that would eventually take her place.

You can see 2 large queen cells on the left half of this picture and our old queen with a yellow dot towards the middle on the right side.

You can see 2 large queen cells on the left and our old queen with a yellow dot towards the middle on the right side.

Allowing the bees to produce their own queen is usually not successful in our experience. This is due to the fact that we don’t have enough hives to produce a really good drone pool and the chances of the queen mating with an Africanized drone are possible too.  So this hive will either be re-queened with a hygienic queen that we will buy from a local supplier or we will combine it with another hive.

How to Identify Elements on a Bee Frame

I thought it would be helpful for some of the beginners out there to see a frame with some important elements pointed out. I’m also providing a link to the full resolution versions so that you can zoom in.

Frame_small

Frame with important elements marked.

Click here for full resolution file of marked up frame.

Unmarked frame for comparison.

Unmarked frame for comparison.

Click here for full resolution file of unmarked frame.