No Honey…Yet

This is a video of me doing a quick inspection of my beehive. I’m really just checking the top box to see if there is any honey that I can harvest. They still have a little ways to go before I can harvest anything. Since I gave away 3 frames of eggs and brood to my brother to save his last remaining (queenless) hive a few weeks ago, they’ve probably been more busy in the bottom box drawing new comb on the new frames down there than putting honey up in the top box. I did see a couple of frames that were almost full, just not capped. I should be able to harvest those in the next week or two, which is good because I’m almost out of honey and I don’t want to buy anymore. I don’t expect to take more than a few frames this year, but that should be enough to get a couple of small jars of honey. I can’t wait!

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Meet Sweet Melissa

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I know this is a bit backward, but I’m a bit behind in my blogging. The first  video is of me feeding  my bees in the Sweet Melissa hive. I had just finished shaking the bees into their new home.  The second video is me feeding them again about a week later, after cold and stormy weather had finally broken. The plastic Ziploc baggie contains organic cane sugar and a bee attractant. The bee attractant was meant to be placed in the garden to attract and feed pollinating bees and other insects, so I thought they would like that. Plus I read that bees like herbs and some beekeepers put thyme and other herbs in their sugar syrup, so I put a few leaves of dried thyme from last year’s garden in there.  I later learned that the organic sugar may not be all that good for them…there are too many solids in the unprocessed evaporated cane juice that may cause dysentery in bees. So I ended up switching to plain, white, bleached overprocessed sugar to make my syrup, which they took much more eagerly, along with a pollen patty meant for feeding honeybees in the hive (my brother had extra and shared them with me). These are emergency survival foods meant to give a new hive enough calories and protein to survive until enough plants bloom to provide nectar and pollen. A new box of package bees has not a spec of honeycomb built nor a drop honey stored, so if plants aren’t blooming yet, they will quickly starve.

What I realized is that putting bees from unrelated hives in a box with an unrelated queen, shipping them in a truck hundreds of miles and shaking them into a brand new hive, is a highly inorganic, unnatural process anyway. Trying to make it natural by giving them organic sugar, while well-intentioned on my part, really wasn’t going to change that fact. In the future I will stick to plain ‘ole bad for you processed white sugar, if I need to feed sugar syrup. As long as it is pure cane sugar, for I’ve read that beet-derived sugar can cause the same type of dysentery as the brown organic stuff. But I will add a couple of thyme leaves, because I haven’t read anything bad about that and they seemed to really like it. Actually, in the future I hope to be able to have a backup stock of frozen frames of honey harvested from my own hives, so if I want to start a new package of bees I can give them real bee food…honey in the comb. It is not recommended to feed bees honey from an unknown source since it could carry bee diseases, so I can’t take a honey bear off the shelf of the grocery store and stick that in the hive!

I ended up feeding them in the hive for several weeks and placing feeding stations with the ziplock baggies in my yard, along with a shallow tray of rocks with water (that can be seen in the second video), both of which they eagerly visited until the second or third week of May. Then they abruptly stopped eating and drinking at those stations. I removed the food but not the water station. Given how expensive bee feeders can be, and the fact that my bees sucked the baggies dry both inside the hive and in my yard, I don’t see any reason to invest in any type of feeders at this point.