Just Add a Little Dirt

birdbath

Learning something new is always fun to do. Especially when it comes to helping bees!

For the last four weeks or so my honeybees have quit visiting the bird bath water source I’ve provided them. A green icky algae had slimed the entire birdbath, and even having since cleaned it and filled it with fresh water, my bees had still not returned to it. Usually I fill the birdbath with┬ádried leaves, sticks, and stems from plants to give them a landing pad or something to grab onto if they accidentally fall in, but still no bees were interested…and that darn green algae came back. So I cleaned out the birdbath again, and remembering back from my beekeeping class that they tend to prefer more “odorific” water, I decided to try just adding a little bit of dirt to the water. Not even an hour later, I kid you not, bees are coming and going once again! I’ve set a couple wine corks, cut in half, as a floatation device instead of twigs and such, and am having a blast watching the bees use them.

I’m not sure where they were getting their water for the last month, but undoubtedly this is much closer for them. And maybe that gross green algae won’t creep back since I’m keeping this recipe simple – start with water, then┬ájust add a little dirt.

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Bee Update

It’s been quite a while since my last post, and only because I didn’t want to post about how worried I am about my bees, but today was a great day so I wanted to catch you all up on what’s been going on.

The last few weeks of monitoring the second box that I added back in June and not seeing much progress has been a little worrisome. Autumn is right around the corner and the temperature has already dropped a bit so that it’s pretty cool in the evenings. The last time I took a look in the hive was two weeks ago and there had been no progress on the pulling of the frames. They really had their work cut out for them in order to build all the comb on nearly all the frames in the second box, and then to start storing honey and capping their honey in all of those frames…I was getting pretty doubtful that they would be able to do it in time for winter, which would mean not enough food for them to survive.

Today we had Andrew’s parents over and showed them the hive. When we opened it up there was capped honey in the first two frames and looking down upon the other frames it looked like the little ladies had done a good job of pulling wax for their new comb on the rest. I’m very pleased with the progress, and it seems like my feeding them has helped significantly. I plan on continuing the simple syrup mix that I’ve been giving to them nearly everyday/every other day until my next inspection on Labor Day weekend. I really want to avoid feeding them for such long periods of time, but as I’m still learning about the impact of the drought we had here and what autumn blooms will bring for the nectar flow, I think I will keeping going for the next 10 days to see what they do.

I’ll be taking a bee class in mid-September to learn more about bee-friendly plants – can’t wait!!!

To Feed, or Not to Feed, That Is the Question

I’ve been a little conflicted about whether to feed my bees during this very dry period we’re experiencing in the D. On one hand, if I feed them I’d probably be seeing a lot more comb being built which is essential in order for the bees to store the honey they need for over-wintering, but on the other hand, I’d be giving my little girls junk food.

Today, I’m opting for the junk food. It’s not a truly organic approach, but I will sleep better knowing that my bees have happy bellies and are better equipped for pulling the wax they need for their combs. I’m making some simple syrup now with a 1:2 ratio of sugar to water. I’ll let you know what results I observe from this.