Friday, June 22, 2012

Everybody Out of the Sugar Pool

I got myself into quite a pickle this morning. Yesterday I added more syrup the top feeders on my hives but I didn't have enough syrup prepared. I knew I'd have to add more this morning. I figured I could forgo donning the entire bee suit and use my bonnet and gloves. There shouldn't be any bees inside the feeders. I opened the new hive's feeder and all was well. I added more syrup, closed it up and went over to the older, stronger, more populated hive. I popped the top and I'll be damned if they hadn't already drained it dry. I could see a few bees on top of the part that divides the 2 reservoirs. No biggie. I'd just fill it back up, scoot those bees off with my bee brush and be done. I dumped in the rest of the syrup and went to grab the brush. As I prepared to oust the bees I peeked into the feeder from a slightly different angle. Oh crap. There were about 40 bees hiding on the other side of the divider. I closed the top and went back to the house to decide the best plan to remove those bees from the feeder. While I was thinking I made up another 4# of sugar syrup. Guess I better make a trip to Costco for more sugar. Hmmmmm....I could remove the feeder super, dump out the syrup and dead bees, replace and refill it. There were 2 problems with that plan. First, there would be a whole lot of bees clinging underneath the feeder and they wouldn't be easy to remove. And second, today is cool and rainy. If I remove that super the hive will be open and the brood could get chilled. I thought it better to use a slotted spoon to remove the dead bees from the syrup and try to brush off any living bees from the feeder. I again donned the bonnet and gloves, removed the covers and was happy to see that most of those 40 bees were still alive and on top of the divider. I started brushing them off which did not make them happy, to say the least. I thought it prudent to close the lid, retreat to the house and put on the full bee suit. Once inside I removed my bonnet and immediately recognized the sound of a very pissed off bee. I ushered her out the door, put on the suit and returned to the hive. I once again lifted the lid. This time there were fewer bees to shoo away. I brushed off the ones I could, and used a slotted spoon to remove those that fell into the syrup. I added even more syrup and closed the lid. Whew! These fancy top feeders are supposed to be easy to use and keep your bees from drowning. Not the way I do it. I'll have to keep a lookout for some glass weights to use to hold the screen down so they can't get in when the syrup is low. Clever little monkeys.

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