I have (so far) a 50% overwintering loss (as compared to last year’s 70% loss.) I’m delighted, and want to kiss them all. However, they’ve already reminded me that they are stinging insects. And turns out that I still swell up when stung, doggone it.
Because last year’s loss of 70% still stings, I’m delighted with 50%, especially because the colonies seem to be strong. And starving.
If you have surviving bees, congrats. Please consider providing feed for them, because there’s not much out there for them yet. I have a handful of crocuses up in the yard. They’ll be really well-pollinated crocuses as the bees are lined up at them. They’re also lined up at my neighbor’s bird, er, bee feeder. Must be something in that feed that’s very appealing, and thanks neighbor!
Here’s what I’m doing about feeding our bees this time of year …
Last fall we Mountain Camped all our hives. About half our survivors are well into eating that sugar “ceiling, so we’re keeping an eye on it to ensure they don’t run out.
Honey from our dead-outs that we’ve deemed acceptable we’re putting in a hive body atop any colonies that have worked their way to the top. Bees are “chimney eaters”, meaning they tend to eat up, and usually–above where their cluster is. This time of year, the queen is laying so there’s probably a respectably sized brood nest. The heat generated there rises and softens the honey above it, so positioning the honey above the brood nest is important.
We also have a protein patty in each hive. I’m ambivalent about using these, but I had them, so I put them in. It seems like in one of our hives it has caused massive diarrhea, or perhaps that was coincidental. In another – they devoured it with no apparent side effects. In most hives though, they’re ignoring it. So … ? Some people swear by them; I don’t – yet.
On nice days, we’re also open feeding honey from our dead-outs by scratching open the honeycomb, and positioning it about 50’ or more from any hives to discourage raiding.
We put spring syrup in all our front hive feeders just in case. While I think bees prefer fresh pollen and nectar, there isn’t much of that available. Also, on a brisk day, they’re not flying, so they’ve got food right in their doorway if they’re interested.
And I’ve thanked my neighbor, for putting out a bird, er, bee feeder.
More of what I’m doing in my apiary this time of year may be found at my blog “Honey, Bear in Mind” at www.hubbardhive.com.