Bee Keeping Complications!

So the other day when it was sunny and the bee’s were flying, I suited up and went out to check my hives……We had to remove some Burr Comb a couple of weeks ago, so I knew there was the possibility of them forming even more of it in there. The Bee’s make Burr Comb when the proper “Bee Space” is not maintained, meaning that if the frames are not exactly equally spaced or are crooked inside the box, they will form excess honeycomb to “fill” the available space in there. This photo shows an example of what you don’t want to do! (this was taken BEFORE I installed my bee’s in the hives)

Uneven frame spacing

My plan was to check for Burr Comb and to also remove the sugar water feeders and replace them with new frames. You can see the sugar water feeder in the box above with the holes where you pour the liquid in.

 

This is the 1:1 sugar water mixture with essential oil that smells wonderful, like Lemon Balm! The Bee’s need this extra nutrition when they first go into the Hive, before they have been able to fly and forage for pollen.

 

I am happy to report that my “girls” are doing their hard and diligent work.  It appears that they may actually be doing a little TOO much and are creating MORE Burr comb. I had no idea that the bee’s had gone down inside the feeders and started creating a whole new universe of free form combs in there!

I could hear that LOTS of bee’s were down in the feeder box, trapped in there…..when I took it all apart this is what I found …

The photo shows the sugar water feeder once I had it opened up in order to get it cleaned out. None of that comb is supposed to be on there, it is supposed to be all on the frames!  Being a novice Bee Keeper, this posed a dilemma, because I didn’t want to kill all the larvae inside the comb.  You can see the Larvae in the comb on the left side if you look closely.  There are various stages of development going on here, you can see the larger combs that have been “capped off” to the right side.  I was also happy to see (and taste) the actual Honey that’s forming, what a miracle that is!

In the end, I had to scrape all of this off and discard the larvae. I tried to get the live bee’s to go back into the main hives but I don’t think that really worked. Most of these bee’s seemed to be drunk on the sugar water probably because they had been living down in there. They seemed very sluggish and were coated with liquid and seemed to not be able to fly.  There were a LOT more bee’s on the comb than what is shown in the photos, they had literally covered it and I had to shake them off to even see the comb itself.

 

 

The pond

The Pond is not far from the hives and this is where they go for water.  A wetland runs through part of our property and so we have lots of water during most of the year. We love to watch all of the birds and ducks that live in the wetland and underbrush around this pond. You can see the Holly Orchard in the distance where the bee’s also like to go.

As I was doing all of this cleaning up, the hive sent scouts over to come check out what was going on.  They would come over and land and investigate, crawling all over the sluggish bee’s and the Burr Comb. Then, I imagine, they flew off  imparting their secret Bee message back to the rest of the hive. It would go something like ” I told those bee’s not to get all liquored up on that dang sugar water, now look what happened” .

 

The Bee’s are foraging on lots of blooming Maples, Holly, Apples, Pears, Scotch Broom and all kinds of other Spring flowering plants in our area.  If you stand quietly in the Holly Orchard you can hear that it is absolutely alive with so many bees buzzing that it forms kind of a low humming drone sound.

 

When it’s warm enough and the dandelions first bloom……that’s a sign that the bee’s are ready to fly!
 Luckily there are what appear to be thousands of other healthy bee’s in the  hives so I guess this Burr Comb loss comes with the territory.