Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From The Field: Your Bees Are Probably Starving

An EIGN reader sent in this note from the field via the Northern Virgina Beekeeping class newsgroup:

Your bees are probably starving. That is if you own bees. However the implications for everyone else are obvious and have been reported here before. No food for bees? No food for us. Full EIGN bee coverage can be found here.

Our favorite part of the email: "Hungry bees can become angry, frustrated bees, they're spiteful, something did this to them, ah HA! It's her! That @#$%! Let's get her!"

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: xxxxx@yahoogroups.com
To: xxxxx@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:43:44 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Your bees might be very hungry (solution = feed 'em)

Hi everyone,
This e-mail is going out to PWR club members, both seasoned and newbee alike. Over the past few days, I've visited several people's hives and mine too. We all have something in common. Our bees are STARVING. You may be fortunate to live in an area that still has a nectar flow, but the odds could be that your nectar has shut off. You need to eat, and so do your bees! If you don't feed, your queen won't lay to her potential, comb won't get drawn, your bees may rob other hives, or worse, your neighbor's sangria bar, or REALLY worse, your bees could die over time.

Here's the questions to ask yourself while you inspect:

1. If you recently put honey supers on, (which assumes you're not simultaneously feeding sugar water while your supers are on) are your bees drawing comb or storing nectar off their forage? (REMEMBER FROM CLASS: The term honey "supers" means YOUR honey, not your bees'--I'm not talking about the honey your bees are storing in the brood area.)

2. In your honey supers, are you finding empty comb, when only 2 weeks ago you saw honey/nectar in these combs?

3. When you go into the brood chamber and pull frames of honey are there clusters of bees arranged in a arc on the frame with their heads in cells at the edge of your capped honey, looking like horses gathered around a watering hole?

4. Do you notice "shiny" bees which don't look fuzzy or hairy at all, but their thorax and abdomen look like they were polished with a buffing cloth?

5. Are your bees suddenly queenless, with NO sign of queen cells in an emergency supersedure?

These are tell tale signs that your bees are very hungry.

#1 above. Despite the rains we've had, despite the green lawn you have, the bees may be feeling a drought in some places. Is your location one of those places? Our northern Virginia nectar flow is coming to a screeching halt, I believe. If you get a fall flow where you live with Golden Rod and Aster, consider yourself lucky. Some folks think the rains in early June washed the nectar out of the dutch clover. You think your bees are getting nectar from dutch clover? You might want to check your honey supers to make sure.

#2 above. If your bees feel like there is a threat of "famine" they will take "your" honey above and store it down below. To the bees, honey serves one purpose and it ain't so you can enjoy your toast in the morning with some tasty miele. Their goal is to LIVE, to SURVIVE, just as all living things desire. They will serve their needs over yours, everytime, take that one to the bank.

#3 above. Your bees are feeding themselves. They feel the pinch. They're trying to tell you, "Feed me, and feed me lots!" They will use this honey to not only nourish themselves, but also to nourish (1) uncapped larvae, (2) uncapped queencells if any, (3) queens and (4) drones. Doesn't take long to figure out this resource is limited and precious.

#4 above. People think I'm making this one up. Trust me, & look closely when you inspect. Most of your bees are fuzzy. Some of your bees may be robbing other hives. When they go to raid another colony, they will be met with resistance usually. Fighting will break out, it is primeval, it is all about survival, nothing personal. You got what I want, and I need it, or I or my sisters will die next door, so LET ME HAVE IT. It's a war. Bees lose their hair in war, Not me I lost my hair raising kids, but your bees if they're bald will appear shiny and almost "blacker." These bees have been robbing other hives. Why? Because they're hungry. So please feed them. You wouldn't starve your dog, why starve your bugs?

#5 above. Hungry bees can become angry, frustrated bees, they're spiteful, something did this to them, ah HA! It's her! That @#$%! Let's get her! Ok, it may not be quite like this, but I've seen a hive kill their queen during a robbing frenzy. I think it's friendly fire, fratricide...maybe sororicide, who knows. You don't want this to happen to you. What can you do? Psssst..... hey, it's easy, FEED!

So by now, I hope everyone has the message loud and clear, if you see these signs pls feed feed feed FEED! If you don't, your bees might pay for it. If your bees don't kick the honey bucket by July, without syrup, then you're very lucky.

No comments: