Aaaah!! I should change the premise of this blog to “My ATTEMPTS at beekeeping” or “How to NOT be a beekeeper.” Maybe I’ll be like Bill Turnbull and write my own “confessions” some day.
Today was the first day I could feed the bees in their hives. Thus yesterday, to help with winter preparation, I set out a pan of rocks with sugar syrup…it became quite a popular spot as you can imagine.
I wanted to start serious feeding as the temps are dropping rapidly. My new plastic hive top feeder from Brushy Mountain somehow drowned bees–I could not figure out how they got in there! I ended up taping the edges of the plastic grid to lessen the chances of them entering the syrup pool, but some were still getting in there, I need to figure out how.
I decided to use the baggie feeders everyone raves about. Essentially you take a gallon sized storage bag, fill it with syrup, lay it on the frames, cut an X on the air bubble and the bees will easily harvest the syrup. Doesn’t that sound EASY??? Well folks let me tell you something. It WASN’T.
Lessons for the day and lessons for baggie feeder use:
For the day:
1. Never assume. You know what happens.
2. Always have a clean bucket with you when visiting the hives.
3. Always use a SHARP knife.
4. Have a CONTINGENCY plan.
5. Always expect the worst so that you can be pleasantly surprised if it
For baggie feeder use:
1. Fill them up in the house
2. Do not fill them completely, about 2/3 would be lovely.
3. When using them for the first time, just start with one bag.
(I planned on 4, I ended up with none. Stay tuned.)
4. Do not place them over the frames the first time, lay them on
the inner cover to avoid horrific spills down the frames, ALL
5. Have a bucket in which to throw your failure.
6. And don’t try this with 2:1 syrup, it clogs the slits.
Clearly the baggie feeder did not work. I filled them up to the brim, laid them on the frames, cut the X’s poorly with a dull knife and watched the syrup as it POURED out of one of the bags and down the frames, covering oodles and oodles of bees in the process. Who knows if the queen was caught as well? Who knows indeed, not I my friends! And I won’t know until the weekend.
I quickly ran to the shed to get a bucket which I happened to have washed yesterday! Score one for me! I scooped up the offending bag and dumped it in and then looked to see the other bag with a steady trickle DOWN THE FRAMES!! UGH. Scooped that one up too. The bags were clearly overfilled. So I grabbed the bucket and carried 2 empty baggies away from the hives, filled them up 2/3 and came back. This time I set the inner cover in place and then the new baggies. It looked good, there was room for the bees to come into the space so I left it alone and went to the store to get dinner.
After making dinner I went out to check on them and found this massive crowd of bees outside the inner cover, along the edge of where the baggie feeder would be. I popped the top very carefully and found a pool of syrup rapidly drying, bees drowned in the pool and the remaining bag stopped up from the dried syrup. I grabbed my gloves which were FILTHY from earlier and my long sleeved shirt, no veil. I got in there, took the bags out, dropped them into the bucket I had with me (you see I learn), and emptied them out. I then took the hive top feeder, which was what I was trying to replace and, set in on top. Then I dumped the bucket into the feeder. One bee flew right into my face but I got her off before she did any damage.
If my bees survive to see the spring, it won’t be because of me, it will be in spite of me.
Here are the used and useless storage bags:
The girls are cleaning up my mess: