Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Did I say beekeeping was fun? The past hour and a half has been anything but. We had 2 days of wet weather but this morning was beautiful and I spent my time at the library and then onto the park for a while followed by a long walk. When I got home around 12:30 I headed to the garden to check on the hives. (We had over 2 inches of rain yesterday along with high winds.) I noticed even from a distance that there seemed to be quite a bit of activity around Walter. As I got closer I saw there was a problem. The guard were very actively "excorting" intruders away from the hive. Some of the bees were yellowjackets, but most were other honeybees.

When I did the sugar shake on Walter, Sunday, I put the entrance reducer on to help guard against robbing. I was worried about yellowjackets. I took it off late Sunday and because the weather was so bad Monday and Tuesday didn't have any reason to think I might have cause to be concerned. There were no bees flying. Obviously, today was a different story because of the nice weather. There were LOTS of bees out! There was no signs of any problem at the entrance to Ora and not wanting to have one, I grabbed a stick and stuck it in the entrance leaving about a 3 inch opening. There was sedum in the compost pile and I stuck a dead flowerhead in the opening leaving just a small half inch space. I ran and grabbed my gloves, hat and veil and also turned the water hose on. By creating an artificial rain many of the bees headed back into the hive. I also hoped any of the invaders would be on their way back home. This helped to calm the bees enough for me to get the entrance reducer back on Walter along with sedum there, also. Walter with entrance reducer. As I began to calm down I realized what was happening. I use screened bottom boards on both hives and when I did the sugar shake a lot of it fell down on the table that holds the hives. The table is solid and I could look up under the entrance and see lots of sugar and bees. The problem was under the hive instead of inside. I was able to take the water hose and, from the front and the back, spray enough water to get rid of the sugar. Sadly, I also drowned several bees. But at this point I figured a small loss was better than a big one. After I got out most of the sugar and dead bees, I used a small solid stick under the entrance to seal off the space under the hive.

This is the back of the hive where there was also quite a bit of activity. I used a small board and stick to close it.

After almost 2 hours, things are much calmer. I may need a glass of wine, but I think the bees are OK. I very quickly took at look under the inner cover and the bees that I could see inside the hive were working very calmly almost as I nothing was going on outside. In still such a beginner, but I don't think this was a serious robbing event.

I paraphrase, but Ross Conrad says there are no mistakes in beekeeping, just learning experiences. I hope he's right. What I will do differently next time is to put my sticky boards over the screened bottom boards before I do the sugar shake. Then when I'm finished, remove the boards holding all the fallen sugar. I may have to wait until the weather turns much colder and we can move the hives more easily, but I'm going to get rid of the solid table. Along with the sugar, there is a lot of other debris from the hives there. I've seen a couple of good options thanks to some of my fellow bloggers. I hope to be able to get out this evening while there is still light and, with the help of G, lift both hives and do some cleaning underneath and also raise them with some lumber.

I walked back up the hives and there is a lot of buzzing around the front of both, but no fighting. My bees simply do not like the entrance reducers. They will have to live with them for the next few days until I feel confident there is no further threat.


vicree said...

Sounds like you have a "fun" evening planned when some muscle walks in the door. Surely Walter and Ora are heavy!

Two walks, two women. Bears and robbers. Go pour the wine!

Lynn said...

I'm way ahead of you!

Anonymous said...

And I think I'm having trouble sometime, lol.

We all learn from ourselves and each other, and blogging (and reading other blogs) has been a tremendous help to me. I try to absorb as much as I can because next year, when I have two hives, I know I'll need the knowledge.

But I have to hand it to you, with those bears you all have, theres more excitement in your bee yard than mine, haha!

Hang in there!

Ngaio said...

Far out Lynn, I thought you would be enjoying autumn with no dramas ! You can keep your bears, I would like to see them but not in my back garden.
I haven`t had to deal with robbing bees or wasps yet, we don`t have hornets in NZ, in fact we have very few bitey insects, what we do have has been imported ! Well done for thinking on your feet and reacting so quickly.
My eldest daughter,Meg, is 34 also - must have been a good year haha She had a beautiful baby, Lia, when she was 21, has done really well and has a great teaching job plus is a talented artist.

Kat said...

I am not a beekeeper, but keep up with blogs about beekeeping and no wonder honey is expensive! Seems like there is always something going on with the bees! My hats off to all you beekeepers.

Cliff W said...

Hi Lynn. Red or white madam? Sounds like you deserve you a couple of glasses at least! Ditto Mark's comments - I never foresaw myself as the blogger type but beekeeping as as an interest fits so well into that groove.