There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. --- Henry David Thoreau
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. -- The House at Pooh Corner
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Hard Luck, alright
Awww. The Hard Luck Hive maintains its reputation. The little bees didn't quite make it, despite me leaving them alone and guarding them from the elements. By yesterday, their few forages had turned into none at all. Since it got into the mid-60's today, I risked a quick peek into the top box of the Warre` hive. Alas, lots of dead bees on the bottom board and the top bars and a bunch of dead in the cells. I suspect they just were too small a colony to provide themselves the necessary heat, but I'm too new a Beek to know for sure. It could be that they were already too stressed from lying in the open before I rescued them. It 's still cold mornings here and two frosty nights right after I got them into the Warre` hive probably doomed them. There were just a few bees climbing around on the combs and none at all venturing out. The brood cluster was still intact, but it was dead except for one small corner of very lethargic brood nurses. So sad.
I put the few remaining and quite lethargic little cluster of the crashed bees, along with their remaining piece of brood comb into my small 24" kTBH hive, figuring it's a warmer, more protectable place for them to live out their remaining days while I prep the Warre` for another swarm.
Robbery! I went away to get a bag to store the rest of the honeycomb in for future use, and when I returned to the hive, all of a sudden there were hundreds of bees going in and out! For a second I thought the colony had miraculously revived, but by sitting and watching and thinking it became evident that I was witnessing a full-scale robbery of the hive. I asked myself, "Did I cause that?" I guess the answer is yes. Probably my opening the hive allowed enough scent out that it attracted the neighboring hive of bees who live a hundred yards away in my neighbor's abandoned Snack Bar Van. So many bees were alighting on the loose comb that big pieces were moving and being dragged across the screened bottom board.
I reached into the hive and retrieved a sizable amount of the honey cells and put them in plastic bags to freeze for later. The robbers just climbed over my fingers and continued to grab what they could, but not a one attempted to sting me. I brushed off the robbers from the combs I selected and bagged up what I could. I left the rest for them. Towards twilight there was an absolute madhouse as what must have been the whole hive of foragers visited and took away all they could. What a sight!
To protect the last few remaining crashed bees, I plugged up the holes in the 24" kTBH with corks while the robbery continued to take place in the Warre`. I'll unplug them tomorrow and let them do as they will, about a quarter-cup of bees altogether. Never saw a queen. I don't want to add them to Ed's colonies at this point. Seems futile, anyway.
Speaking of Ed's colonies, I went over this morning to feed them and found both the City Bees and the Country Bees out foraging and bringing in lots and lots of bright yellow pollen. Many different plants popped out over the weekend, almost all of them yellow. It appears that spring has begun in earnest. These guys are gonna be fine now.
This blog originates in Pleasant Hill/Dexter, Oregon. I try to summarize those little tips and bits of information and experience that no one who writes bee books bothers to explain. I've gathered up what lessons I could from 7 years (so far) of hands-on learning "the hard way"; from asking a lot of questions of seasoned, experienced Beeks; and from paying attention to the 'Net. My name is Tom Warren. [The picture above is of Molly, Ed, Sean and Twinkle, in the Eagle's Rest Garden and Beeyard]
Like many bee blogs, this one tends to not get updated with new posts like it should. (Lots of beeks give up on their blogs because they get busy with the hives and don't come in and sit at the computer) I quit beating myself up about no new posts, instead I've been told that the links and resources being present and updated makes this blog good enough to keep me at it. I'm keeping it active, even if it doesn't look like it. Patience, y'all.
Cut to the Chase ....
If you need to get started keeping bees real quick, THIS SECTIONwill give you tips and guidance on the things you need to do, in the order you need to do them. Then, Dear Reader, start from the bottom up and read about one Newbeek's meanderings toward how to save some of the bees ...