Saturday, August 21, 2010

Murphy's Law of Beekeeping and Making a Decision

Mark got home after 6:30 p.m. tonight, hollered up the stairs, "Do you want to go check the bees?" and we were off to Bee Hill in spite of the late hour. He asked me what he needed, we loaded up the 4-wheeler, and took off.

When we arrived, Bee Hill was surrounded by millet* in bloom with small yellow flowers spread like confetti over the dark green foliage. Lovely! I think it made the bees happy, and from the pips and whirring of hummingbirds, they were happy too. *9-02-10 this is not millet, it's a weed!

What was missing: Mark's new veil. I'd brought his shirt out of the house, but didn't know where his veil was. We each assumed the other had it. So, instead of being my first time in my full outfit, I wore my jacket and he made do with the old veil and a shirt it couldn't attach to. Surprisingly, even though there were a lot of bees in the air, he had only one near miss. He realized one was about to climb into the veil, he had a frame loaded with bees in his hands, and he quickly handed it off to me. I sure was thankful I had those new gloves! So, Murphy's Law of Beekeeping is that no matter how much stuff you pile on the 4-wheeler or in the truck, you won't have what you need.

We were losing daylight fast, so he started in Hive 1. He checked the lower medium super and is pleased with the amount of drawn comb. He sprinkled the bees with powdered sugar to treat for pests, closed it up, and moved to Hive 2. He dusted them with powdered sugar, and moved to Hive 4.

We wanted to do a more thorough inspection of Hive 4 to make a decision about re-queening. What we discovered was odd. In the frames that Mark had used rubber bands to attach their old comb from the gas grill, they had drawn comb to attach it to the frames and filled that with honey. On the frames with plastic foundation, they'd drawn comb unevenly, not just in disorderly shapes across the plastic, but in varying depths. We didn't see the queen, but the brood appeared patchy. What we saw confirmed that we need to requeen, so the next step is to talk to an experienced beekeeper and find out if we can get some help finding the old queen and replacing her with a new one. They got dusted, and appear to be eating the protein patty with enthusiasm.

We ran out of time, so Hives 3 & 5 didn't get treated with powdered sugar.


  1. Powdered sugar keeps OUT pests?!

  2. I know, right? Powdered sugar sticks to the bees; as they groom each other, they pry off the mites that cause such problems. The sugar also makes the mites just fall off on their own, supposedly. It's terrific that a kitchen staple can be used to fight off bugs (instead of attracting them, as is usually the case)!