Friday, April 30, 2010

So what exactly did go wrong? I think I took the "keep" out of Beekeeping.

I've probably talked to 5 honeybee experts this week about what went wrong in my first attempt with the TBH.  I've also been reading about the many people who had the same thing happen to them with TBH's.  As a result I have a long list of what the problem could have been, but I believe it wasn't one problem but a combination of a few.  Here's the three most likely situations:

  • No comb to call home - I didn't mean for that to rhyme - so if someone gave you a new home for free but there was no furniture and no food how long would you stay?  Yea, me too.  I'd be gone so quick their head would spin.  The top bars are made for bees to build comb, but these bees had never built on top bars and although they tried, the queen wasn't interested in trying too hard and decided to leave.
  • The queen was never accepted by the colony - this is an interesting one.  Queens are introduced to the bees in the package by being put into a cage with screen on it and a cork in the entrance hole.  At first, the bees in the hive want to kill her and will bite at the screen.  Just by being there with the bees they will soon accept her as their queen.  So what I did, which I was told was right, was to replace the cork with a marshmallow and by the time they eat through the marshmallow she will be accepted.  She may not have been accepted that readily being a young queen.  They may have killed her when she came out of the cage.
  • No accessible food, they may have starved to death - I did provide them with food.  I gave them a feeder that was a bowl with a can of sugar water turned upside down and foam pieces floating in it to keep them from drowning.  I placed the feeder in the hive.  What I recently learned was that when they are in the hive they do not fly.  Therefore, they could not get to the food.  Had I given them a zip lock with little holes in it they could have crawled over to it and soon would have been eating.  With the bowl, they could not climb up it or never even found it.

Each one of these explanations has about ten different answers to how you can fix it, but I've decided to go the route of having a colony started for me on top bars called a nuc (nuke).  The nuc will have 3 bars of brood and 1 bar of "stores".  The queen will be laying eggs and the colony will be tending to them.  All I will need to do is to move the bars into my hive and then it should take.  Karen is getting one as well.  the nuc's will be ready around June 1st.

For my third hive I'm going to try and get a swarm.  I have my name on two swarm lists and I also know of two bee trees that may swarm.  If I get a swarm it will be placed out at The Kois Farm.

So that's the plan...I'm not giving garden really needs the bees.

No comments:

Post a Comment