Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's au revoir - not goodbye.

For the record, the weather continues to be fine and warm with ivy still in blossom.  It has a pale greenish-yellow pollen, I think, from what I see on the bees and around the garden.  There's also this vivid orange pollen still whose origin continues to escape me.

We are off to foreign climes tomorrow so it was the last opportunity to check on everything bee-wise and to exchange the super (c/w 5 drawn frames and some nectar) with the brood chamber.  Everything went fairly smoothly with the bees adjusting to their new furniture layout quite quickly.  "Jeez, I never noticed that frame there before!" "oh well" and that was that.  Temperament-wise they were in great form - still no stings. The photo left shows one of the girls posing for the camera. Hardly a puff from the smoker was necessary - these girls certainly know how to behave themselves! 

There was plenty of sealed and unsealed brood (see right) but I think the Queen has slowed down her laying rate but that's to be expected.  There were a few eggs so she's still there, although it goes without saying almost that we didn't see her!  April/May is the time to re-mark her when the colony population is far lower and she should be easier to find - fingers crossed.   A few drones still roam over the frames looking slightly lost.  Stored levels were looking well but given that we are going away for ten days and the weather is so unpredictable here, I added on my newly-acquired Ashforth Feeder (full hive dimensions and about the height of a super - the bees feed at one end.  

I then realised that since, I had never used this feeder before, I didn't know whether the crownboard goes above or below - bit of a Homer Simpson moment!  Anyway, it's now above the feeder and that's where it's staying until we get back although I can't see that there's a major advantage either way -  my logic was that it's preferable to have the syrup as near to the bees as possible and that the heat from the cluster in the winter will keep the syrup from getting too cold.  Any thoughts folks?

I added about 4 pints of syrup which is probably more than necessary but I'd rather play safe. I replaced the "varroa board" on the open mesh floor (for better heat protection at night) while my friendly assistant and fiancée, Elva, tied up the brushwood screen along the fenceline to the north which should help protect the hive from those cold winds between December and February.  

Take care y'all my bee buddies and talk to you when we get back.

P.S this photo looks a bit scary to me.... "You Looking at Me?"


PhilipH said...

Enjoy your break Cliff. And take care wherever and whatever you do.
Cheers, Phil

Cliff W said...

Thanks Philip - we're off to Croatia and Montenegro so we're both very excited.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cliff! Have fun on your trip and enjoy the sights. About the syrup, I think you're right, if its closer to the cluster and the heat is rising, it may keep it from freezing or crystalizing too much. I'm guessing of course. But I'm wondering the same thing. I plan to leave a feeder on until they stop taking the syrup. Next month, the beginning of October, I am going to switch to a 2:1 syrup and keep it on until they stop taking it. Then I'll start again in the early spring until the nectart flow kicks in. Anyway, you two have fun!

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

Hi Cliff. I agree with your and Marks comments. Their heat will rise and warm the syrup.
Your photos are fantastic! Have an awesome vacation and I hope you have great weather. Hey, maybe you'll see a few bees while you're there.

Kenzie said...

Hi Cliff - hope you have a good break. Thanks again for your treat of a blog. I'll "pass" on the crown-board below-or-above feeder question, other than to say that I remember some debate raging on this one at the club apiary at the shook swarm back in April, so you're not alone in wondering what the right answer is. Thanks for those great photos too - keep 'em coming.

Kenzie said...

oh - and the bright orange pollen - no idea what it is but we have loads of it in London too. Will post if I find out what it is.

Lynn said...

Cliff, hope you're having a great trip. I fed all last winter with a boardman feeder and even though I had several mornings of 0 temps, the syrup never froze. And remember this was on the outside of the hive! One of my mentors told me sugar syrup won't freeze and obviously she was correct.