Feeding Frenzy (Duh! Doh! Double-Doh!)

The bees were hived during a time when it was way too cold for them to fly. Even if they could fly, nothing had blossomed yet to provide the nectar flow on which they depend for sustenance.

So the bees had to be fed until conditions changed for the better. I'd started out using the allegedly foolproof "baggy method" wherein a Ziploc bag is filled partway with syrup, laid on the floor of the hive, and slit open a bit to allow the bees to perch on it and gather syrup with their proboscises—a bucolic image in a plastic-laden-21st-century sort of way.

Unfortunately, when I dumped the three-pound package of bees into the hive where I'd placed the baggy, the weight of the falling swarm caused a small tsunami of syrup to soak the Green Hive, engulfing what seemed like a thousand bees. Bees died, I cried, and lessons were painfully learned.

Lesson 1: The word "foolproof" should be banned from the English language.

Lesson 2: Even if you think you have thought through every possible outcome of a seemingly innocent action, you haven’t.

Lesson 3: Book-learnin’ doesn't hold a candle to experience.

The soaked swarm of distraught, demoralized bees was not a pretty sight. Fortunately, the death toll was much lower than it initially appeared. (I’m traumatized for life; the bees seem to have moved on). Which brings me to Lesson 4:

There’s a good reason why honeybees are considered a "superorganism."

Hive Orange, needless to say, was not subjected to the foolproof baggy method. There, I first tried a little bowl of syrup with sticks on the surface to serve as a landing pad. But the bees polished that off too quickly to keep up, and in the cold weather I did not want to keep opening the hive every three hours. (Plus, I needed some sleep after all the Ziploc-related emotional upheaval.)

I finally settled on quart-sized Mason jars, inverted, with little nail-holes in the lid (sharp side in, so the bees wouldn't be injured). The jars were set on top of a pair of squared-off chopsticks to create a nice crawl space for the bees. That's worked very well, been easy to deal with, delivered plenty of food for days at a time, and so far has not resulted in mass deaths. The bees have emptied as many as two such jars per week per hive.

Here you see a bit of comb the ever-vigilant bees started building on one of the mason jars.

1 comment:

Eva Yaa Asantewaa said...

A terrible trauma! My heart goes out to you. But you have come through. It's amazing to see this dream come true for you! Congratulations!