Friday, January 6, 2012

A new bee pest!

Richard has a post on his blog about the discovery of a new pest that is causing harm to honey bee colonies. This insect may be one factor in the mysterious confluence of causes for Colony Collapse Disorder.

Reading about it, I'm reminded of the movie "Alien" -- isn't that the one where nasty things explode out of someone's stomach?  Same idea here, as the phorid fly lays eggs in a bee's abdomen. These flies are known to parasitize bumblebees, which have a more solitary, seasonal lifespan. Imagine the damage they could do to colonies of bees that live year-round!

The good news, at least for our bees, is that these flies have been observed in California and South Dakota. We'll hope they stay far away from Mississippi.

Plus, today the temperature is supposed to reach at least 70 degrees, so our bees can fly about and enjoy the warmer weather. Enjoy your weekend!

Image taken from a preschool site, which means it likely came from somewhere else ...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, Friends!

January 1st is a special day -- it's our anniversary. Today Mark and I are celebrating four years of married life! He's so handsome!

Yesterday I made a new batch of bee tea, as warmer weather has seen the bees out flying. In fact, on Friday, they were experiencing traffic problems at the entrances to the hives on Bee Hill to the point they appeared to be bearding! The entrance reducers may keep out mice, but on warm Mississippi winter days, they also keep out the bees. I'm happy to report that all of the hives on Bee Hill appear to be thriving so far this winter.

Porch bees with pitcher of tea and feeder, back view.

Mark lifts the cover off the bees across the road.

One brave bee near the hole in the feeder board.

Today, we put clean feeders on two hives -- the one on the porch that is a single deep super, and the one over at our neighbor's place. The feeder across the road was a science fair project -- badly crystallized sugar had completely blocked the area where the bees access the feed. The feeder was nearly full of unused bee tea, and caked over with sugar crystals and dead ants. Blech! Although I followed the recipe, for some reason this batch of bee tea didn't stay liquid as long as it should have. Hopefully the new batch will be used quickly by the bees so they can benefit from it.

Surprisingly, we saw two different types of wildflowers in bloom. I recognized the purple henbit, but not the yellow flower. One day I'll get a proper book and learn these things as I should. We're delighted there's something out there for the bees to forage on when they come out on warm days.

If you want honey, we have just a few small jars left.  Let me or Mark know and we'll get it to you. Thanks for your continued support and interest. We love sharing our honey and bee stories with you!