Monday, August 2, 2010

Bee Keeper Tech Support

My phone rang at about 8:30 a.m.

Mark: "Do you happen to know where my third feeder is? I found one by the stairs and one in my office."

Keri: "I've tried to make sure all of your bee stuff makes it away from the kitchen, back downstairs." (Thinks to herself: why is it always my fault when stuff gets "lost"? Then she remembers her sister's theory that ovaries are also a homing device for locating lost items. So maybe it's not blame that is motivating this phone call.)

Mark: "Is there anywhere you think it could be? I know I bought three feeders."

Keri thinks for a moment.

Keri: "Yes. It's in Hive 4."

Mark: "It is?"

Keri: "Yes, I took a picture last week." (The above photo shows the feeder as it sits in a hive body, just in case you were wondering what one looks like!)

Thoughtful pause.

Mark: "That's right. I was going to feed them today but I already did! I feel much better now."

That makes two of us. I *hate* feeling guilty for losing something when it wasn't my fault!

Just call me the Bee Keeper's Back-Up Brain. :-)

Here is a closer photo of the feeder with the cover off. The bees fly or crawl up through the hole in the center that opens into the hive box below. The upside-down cup has little concentric ridges all the way down for their tiny bee feet to grip, so they climb down to the sugar water to take a sip and then return to the hive below without risking drowning.

Feeding bees is a controversial subject. (An aside: we heard early on that there are as many opinions about the proper methods of beekeeping as there are bee keepers!) For an extensive and thoughtful treatment of the subject (if from a northern perspective) visit this page by Michael Bush at Bush Farms.

For the record, Mark is feeding these new colonies briefly to give them a good head start -- they'll build wax faster with a steady food supply. As they adjust to the new locale and prefer the flora to the feeder, he removes it. We're planning to leave them all of the honey they create this season to last them through the winter, and delay harvesting until spring to hopefully ensure their health and vitality.

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