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Friday, October 01, 2010

Feeding Frenzy for the Blue Heron Bees

At the recent Blue Heron inspection, it was clear that both remaining hives are way too light to make it through the winter.  We have committed to feeding them heavily through the month of October and maybe into the first two weeks of November (after which we generally have our first freeze here in Georgia).

I put a baggie feeder and a pint jar in a Boardman inside a medium box for a surround on Thursday.  That's really only 1 1/2 quarts so I plan to check it on Sunday or on Monday morning and probably add some more food.

 I really want these bees to live through the winter, despite the fact that they stung gloveless me THREE times while I was simply removing the old empty baggie and adding a new one!  

Two of the stings weren't bad - my left hand little and third fingers - but the third sting was on top of a bad burn I got on my left hand knuckle while making baked oven fries (500 degree oven).  My hand swelled up around the burn and was generally uncomfortable until today.

Julia bought at the Bee Club Auction in September this hive top feeder from Mann Lake.  This is the first time she is using it.  It holds four gallons of syrup so she won't have to return to refill it as often as I will.  However, we found a post on Beemaster indicating that bees feeding with enthusiasm can drown easily in this feeder.

The hardware cloth is not secured at the bottom and the bees in their enthusiasm can end up in the holding tub rather than behind the hardware cloth by pushing through the bottom.  Julia had intended to bring duct tape to manage this problem as in the post mentioned above, but forgot it, so she only filled the side that seemed tight enough not to allow the bees to drown.

This is how we left it.  I guess the bees crawl up in the center, cling to the hardware cloth and stick their little bee tongues into the sugar syrup and suck it up.

We'll see how this works when we check it next weekend.
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  1. Annette11:42 PM

    Also make sure when you pour sugar syrup into this Mann Lake Feeder, you pour very slowly to give the bees clinging onto the screen time to move up and out of the way. One time I poured very quickly and ended up drowning bees, which the housebees removed from the feeder and I found a pile of sticky bees on the ground in front of the hive. Terrible way to learn.

    If you have any questions, you can email me.

    Annette from Placerville

  2. Anonymous6:42 PM

    I have a couple of this exact same feeder, some clear silicone will make the fix a bit more permanent. I quit using these like I used to as the underside is a perfect place for SHB to live and hide. After taking them off, I will set them on the side and let the bees return to the hive, then take them to my concrete driveway and sharply shake them out. Then I do a little dance on all of the beetles scurrying about. It takes quite a few shakes to get most of them out-- the rest I wash out with a hose. The bees tend to build up burr comb on the underside as well.

    These are great for heavy feeding, but I try to get the inner cover back on as soon as I can-- so fewer beetles.

    Also, check for tine cracks in the plastic when pulling them out of storage-- don't ask me how I know.

    I have renamed mine from hive top feeder to SHB breeder. :)

    Matt in ATL.

  3. We have two hives now and plan on going up to five next year. We use the Mann Lake top feeder and haven't experience the SHB problem but maybe we haven't looked in the right places yet. There is a top hive feeder that does breed SHB. Don't know he make but know to avoid it like the plague.

    We just bought the silicon caulk to fix the bee drowing problem with the feeder. Our first feeder had that done to it already but the Mann Lake ones we bought did not have that done so we are going to put in the silicone ourselves.

    Bee Boy out... see you in the bee yard soon.


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