Hive report: bee attitude!

I’m willing to admit that all us females have a potential for bitchiness–expressed in various different ways. My girls in the hive seem to have a very explicit way of expressing theirs–and, no, I’m not talking about stinging. That’s a total last resort only when threatened and/or injured.  That’s defense, not attitude.

This is much more subtle. Despite my careful monitoring of the feeding jars, I let them get empty–completely empty–while on the hives. The bees are sucking down syrup at a great rate which does say something about nectar dearth. But they have registered their disapproval of my behavior.

When I removed the jars–quart jars with a lid that has small holes punched in them so that syrup is under a vacuum when the jars are turned upside down–I find that the girls had filled each and every one of the tiny holes in the lids with propolis. Every single little, tiny hole–completely shut!

Propolis has its uses–it’s antimicrobial, and bees seal small cracks in the hive with it and cover things that need to be “sealed”–like a mouse that is too big for them to carry out of the hive if the beekeeper, perhaps, forgot to put the mouse guard on the hive in the fall.

Getting propolis off of anything is not easy–it is very sticky so that dissolving it is really the only option. Rubbing alcohol is the best thing I’ve found–and the 91% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) is much better than the usual 70% stuff, but it still required an awl to open each little hole individually and then a second scrub with alcohol.

I understood the message while I was out of town for the indexing convention–the jars were probably empty for several days, so I get the propolis. But this time they were only empty for a few hours–I get this message too, but I think I detect a faint bit of attitude here as well, but then I guess I could be feeling that way because I have been getting attitude from the cat as well today.

Anthropomorphize? Who, me?


. . .

From hive to apiary?

hive added The bees are sending signals–they think it’s spring, no matter what the calendar says, or what the infamous groundhog says. (Happy groundhog day, all.) In reading about beekeeping you often find mentions of the varied opinions of different beekeepers–as 5 beekeepers and you will get at least 5 opinions. Well, in describing my hive situation to three master beekeepers I’ve gotten only one opinion: prepare for swarming.

Not being one to ignore what seems good advice, especially with the consensus.  I’ve set up another hive in preparation for  (but hoping to prevent)  the swarming. One hive is soon going to become two.  The bees may dictate that I’m going to do this split sooner rather than later! I won’t know until it’s warm enough to get a good look inside the hive to see if there are swarm cells, or not.

Right now I don’t know if there is another queen in the making in the main hive (I guess that’s hive #1–but I need to think of something more poetic). From some quick searching on the internet, it looks as if I may have not choice but to allow the girls to “make” their own queen for those that stay behind in the main hive.


I keep mentioning candyboard (or candy board) but I don’t think I ever explained what it is and why I put one on the hive for winter.

sugar in mould for bees


Bee candy is just about what you would make for yourself–sugar and water–cooked to a hardball stage then poured into a mould that fits on top of the hive so the bees can get to it for emergency food in cold weather. The bee candy likely has some additions that you’d not like–essentially vitamins, and pollen or pollen substitutes. The is a picture of a candyboard taken in Bailey Bee Supply store while I was there purchasing hive components for the second hive. This is hard candy.  (There’s a photograph of the candyboard that I put on my have after the bees had worked eaten some of it.)  They ate the whole thing! Much sooner than I expected. Now depending on the weather the bees will need more “emergency” food.

Another option for feeding during times when there is not an adequate nectar flow is fondant (soft candy). Since I’ve displayed absolutely no talent for making candy–ever–I chose to buy both the hard and the soft from bee suppliers. I’m going to try the fondant for feeding now until the nectar flow starts. I’ll have to make some other decisions about feeding when the split is made–all rather weather dependent, and bee dictated.

It is possible to feed bees table sugar in other ways. In warm weather, a 1:1 sugar and water syrup works well, or dry sugar in an emergency. (There’s more about my adventures with that in other posts.)

Now, off to the books to learn more about doing splits! These girls obviously didn’t read the book or look at the weather forecast.