Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bee Tea & the Venting Issue

Are the bees going for the Bee/Tea syrup?  Well, I don't know yet, but don't take that the wrong way.  Typically the maples break the pollen & nectar fast for the bees.  At the same time we beeks like to start feeding the bees 1:1 sugar syrup.  It supplements their diet and helps them brood up in early Spring.  Which I have done.  The bees however aren't bothering with the syrup very much.  It has been on them for nine days and they have only taken half of it, maybe.  

It seems right now the Maple flow is amazing.  The mature trees are blooming on consecutive days instead of all at once.  This gives the bees a prolonged flow & pollen source.  The trees that bloomed first have been picked dry and are now closer to seed growth.  While more large trees are breaking bloom each day or so.

Might the Tea be another bad idea.  I had thawed a bunch of full honey frames for the last inspection; in case the bees needed a resupply of honey.  Once they thawed out the tray they were on and the deep they were in  became covered in dripping honey.  Today was warm so i put the tray outside for the bees to clean off.  In fact i placed it between the two hives to guarantee they would find it.  Well, this is what that tray looked like six hours later...

Empty Buffet Line !?
Where are the bees?  Not on the free honey!  In fact we found them on a large Red Maple that had bloomed this morning.  My neighbor & I stood beneath her tree and could hear the actual buzzing of the bees; all four hives worth.  Remember she has two as well.  I remembered that bees will locate a major source and stay with it while skipping other minor sources.  Also that bees prefer Nectar to Honey. 

So I can't tell if the bees like the Tea.  They're taking it slowly which is more than what they are doing to the free honey.  Does that count?  When I open fed them the Tea before the bloom started they were all over it.  That's all I know for now.

They're always on it but not many
 I did finally find a way to clean up the spilled honey on the tray and on the deep those frames were in.  I'm glad it wasn't wasted...

Look who came to help
☼   ☼   ☼

The Ventilation issue still confuses me.  The hive, Myrina, has never had a moisture problem.  Yet, here she is with water practically running off the t-cover.  What i did was add Another Vent Box atop the one she already had.  It looks like this.

Note how much Tea/syrup is still left
The added VB is a Summer version with nine holes.  I changed to VB's with fewer holes last year going into Winter, hence the one with only three.  This did clear up the condensation problem.  I still don't know why it happened.  What I do know:
  1. The cluster is directly beneath the HTF
  2. The t-cover is new to the hive but used and a year old
  3. The Tea/Syrup seems to have a thinner consistency than syrup
  4. The other hive has the same setup but no problem
If this continues again in the Fall I will be upset.  I thought I had the Ventilation problem licked but apparently not.  More reading!



immwia said...

Cute helpers - had I known you needed some help licking ...I mean cleaning up the honey, I would run right over. :-)

Hemlock said...

HAH! I don't want to write a check the bees can't cash but this early Spring might mean a great honey yield. If so you'll be getting plenty of the stuff.

Anonymous said...


My friend, you taught me something! I went to Richard Underhill (The Peace Bee Farmer) and asked him to look over my post about my first inspection for the year.

First, his advice was to allow the package of bees coming from Dadant to draw their own frames to cut down on the possibility of AFB. He said once the've drawn out one deep, then I can use frames from the yellow hive to supplement the hive.

Here's where you come in. Just above, I told you where another beek told me to shake the bees off the brood frames when transfering them to avoid in-fighting -- Richard says that's not right. Here's what he said in his email to me; "One other thing, nurse bees generally don't fight. You can usually move a frame of brood into another hive with nurse bees on it. If you are moving a frame with a queen cell on it, for example making an easy split, make sure that you don't shake the frame. In this case, brush the bees off instead to prevent damaging the queen."

So thanks Hemlock! You've helped me wade through another fallacy and helped me learn something new! I appreciate it! And thanks to Richard Underhill too for setting the record straight.


Doug Ladd said...

With the vent holes above the feeder, i would expect you too have a huge "robbing" like cloud of bees trying to get to the syrup even though its screened once late summer gets here. you might want to think about closing those holes up in the mid summer... it might entice the robbers to start atatcking the hive entrance instead as well...

Doug Ladd

Hemlock said...

Hi Doug Welcome to the Creek.

Thanks for the warning but no need to worry. If you click on the image of the Vent Boxes it will open to a larger image. There you can see the #8 hardware cloth covering the holes. But you're right though. Unprotected holes would lead to an Open Feeding situation in the hive. I do need to be quick when I refill the feeder. There's always a few bees trying to get to it before the lid gets put back on.

Again, Thanks for commenting.

Doug Ladd said...

well really what i was focusing on was just that, the screened holes. even screened the bees wont be able to get to it, but they will be inticed to the hive and in robbing mode and in full robbing behavior. the open smell alone may spur robbing and intice the robbers to go into the entrance. its been my experience even a drop of sugar water on the side of a hive will spur robbing in the hive and cause a major problem.

Just something to watch in late summer, but if you have used them in the past with no problems i wouldnt worry about it...

Doug Ladd said...

Heck your not that far from me. i am in buckingham and the president of the HOVA or Farmville Bee club, i also teach the Buckingham Bee Classes, check out my blog as well

Hemlock said...


They've been good about Robing so far but I will keep an eye out for it.

Yes, I'm here in Campbell County but it only takes me 40 minutes to reach Buckingham Court House. I recently found your blog by following a link from I haven't commented yet but am following your blog.