Saturday, August 7, 2010

Odds and Ants

After the small honey harvest last month I have not been messing with the bees much.  Shorty after the honey day I left town for a couple of weeks.  When I left things were in good order except the bees were ignoring my newly planted Russian Sage.

When I picked it up in the nursery all of the plants were covered in bees.  I have not see a single bee on it at my place.  After looking closely it is apparent it was all a matter of bad timing.  The blossoms are empty and drying up.  It may be the season or the result of transplanting but the bees will get their reward in the next bloom cycle.

This has not been a normal So Cal summer.  It has rarely gotten hot.  In my area, three miles from the coast there is always an ocean breeze and it rarely gets over 85 but for now we have rarely been over 74 and this is August, the start of our hot season.   With the cooler weather I had not seen much evidence of ants this year.  When I got back home lifted the cover of the Playa Vista hive and checked to see if they needed another super.
Oops, the ants were  back.  I put the lid back on and got suited up.  I used the bee brush and kept pushing them off of the frames and sides of the hive.  When there were fewer bees I started to add water to the turkey pans under the hives, something I should have done months ago.
Yes, those are bee bodies in the pile.  Not to worry.  Both hives seem to have used the pans as covenient ossuaries to collect all the dead bees from the hives.  They are not recent deaths but from over the entire winter.   I scraped the majority of them out so they would not provide a bridge for the ants to the hive.

The larger Twitchy Bee hive had only a few bees evident on the hive exterior and none on the top super frames.  I topped off the water in the pans on both hives.  I could have applied more Tanglefoot which would have corrected things but given my hive positions that would have meant lifting and moving both hives.   The water will work just fine for now and I will keep it topped off for the summer.  There is one problem I have to work out.  Most days I find several bees drowning in the water which may be unavoidable for now. 

Over the last couple of days I have lifted the lid on the Playa bees and brushed away more ants but their numbers are lessening.  I will go in next week and clean more out but Ii can see it is working, there seems to be much more bee activity in the top super than there was before.  I may be adding another super quicker than I planned but it is ready with frames and wax starter strips all set up. 

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