Friday, April 10, 2009

Bees & Beekeeping

Received 10 hive top feeders from betterbee today and fed the hives 100lbs of sugar to give them a boost at the start of the season. They'll eat part of the sugar directly, make new comb with it, and store some of it. Giving them a source of food means that they won't rob from other hives as much and that the queen gets the signal that "spring is here". It usually takes 2-3 months for a hive to get to full capacity (and start thinking about swarming) so providing easy food here gets the laying started.

Plus the hivetop feeders are better for the beekeeper (me). The russian bees really are little bastards, and this type of feeder allows me to pop the top off the hive without opening it.

There's a little plastic guard on each end of the feeder that allows the bee to climb up and over the lip of the feeder, but not escape. So I don't get stung when I'm refilling it. I like this approach a LOT better than the mason jar feeder or front of hive feeder, both of which I've gotten stung multiple times using.

If you are considering having bees this year you MUST FIND YOUR PACKAGE SUPPLIER NOW or you'll miss the window of package bees being available. Packages are 3 or 4 lbs of bees plus a young queen. If you get them now, and feed the hive, it has enough time to bulk up before the primary nectar flow.


Anonymous said...

Do you give them brown sugar? or white sugar? I'm wondering if giving white sugar contributes to the mite problem that bees have problems with. I understand that the minerals have pretty much been stripped out of white sugar. I also understand that parasite type critters are attracted to other mineral deficient critters.
Also, I'd be interested in doing some beekeeping, but am ignorant about what pollen may be available for the bees to work with around here. So I'll continue perusing your blog and adding to what little I know. My dad kept bees when I was a kid.

Bruce King said...

I feed them white sugar, either cane or beet, it's all sucrose, whatever is cheaper. The goal of the sugar is to give them a headstart, not to provide their sole ration. So I feed in the early spring; they bulk up the colony, and by the time that the main blooms happen end of may/june, they're a huge, buzzing colony.

I don't send my colonies anywhere, and for the most part they sustain themselves -- but I like the increased honey yield, so I feed them a little; roughly 10lbs of sugar per hive.

Regarding what's around for the bees to utilize -- that's the best part. They figure it out for you.