Monday, October 3, 2016

Buddy Bees

Feeding syrup is the pits, but it seems a necessary evil this year.  I got a late start on it (around Sept 25), but some commercial beeks in my area started feeding about the same time, so maybe that's ok.

I suppose I should backtrack a bit and explain the unusual title of this post. This morning, I was thinking of that scene from the movie Elf in which Buddy grabs a bottle of hooch from a coworker, thinking it's full of maple syrup and dumps it in his coffee, exclaiming, "I love syrup! Oh, I love it!" Some unprofessional behavior ensues. Well, I have Buddy bees. They love syrup, but it makes them lose all dignity.

When I have open fed in the past, it's led to widespread fighting at the feeders and casualties on all sides. (Plus, it seems more costly since I end up feeding every bee & wasp in a 3-mile radius.) Feeding inside the hive, though, generally seems to encourage robbing.

LOL! Labeling bottles of syrup in the fridge so that nobody pours it in their coffee.

When I made up the first batch of syrup last week, I noticed that Peach must have already been the victim of a theft since there were a bunch of ragged cells in the hive. It could also have been that she had simply uncapped the honey I'd given her previously, but my money is on robbing since waxy flakes were also present at the entrance and on top of some bars.

Ragged comb is a tell-tale sign of robbing

To reduce the amount of robbing that might occur, I fed the hives in the evening when the foragers were returning and the bees were beginning their bedtime routines. However, my good-intentions were insufficient. Within minutes of feeding Peach, more robbers descended en masse. Ugh. To shut that down, I closed up her entrances up for a couple of days, allowing only single bees to enter/exit through a tiny gap in the bars. (The weather has been cool, and there are plenty of tiny cracks between bars, so overheating wasn't a concern.)

Fortunately, we've had a number of cloudy/rainy days since then, and I've been trying to time feedings to coincide with those days since the bees are less inclined to go outdoors.

I should note that I haven't been feeding all of the hives:

  • Elsa had plenty of nectar the last time I checked, so I haven't fed her, though I should check again soon. Waiting for a warm day. 
  • I also haven't fed Persephone, who is kind of nasty.  So if she doesn't make it, I won't be too chuffed.
  • Hippolyte isn't interested in the syrup I've been giving her, so I've stopped feeding her.

Although feeding syrup is generally a pain, it does have its amusing moments. This past Friday, the hubby and I were at Costco when he asked, "How many pounds of sugar do you want?"

"100. I used 50 lbs in two days last week."

"Ok. That's a lot of cookies..."

During this exchange, a woman was passing by. Her head whipped around, eyes large with surprise, mouth agape in shock and delight. I didn't bother correcting her. The mystery was much more fun.


  1. Hah! That must have been some look she gave you guys! I always think of beekeeping when I see those big bags at Costco. I hope your girls get most of the sugar water instead of the robbers and it helps them get ready for winter.

    Good thing your are a TF beek. There was an article in the latest Bee Culture by Ed Colby talking about how his gal Marilyn ended up drinking Fumagilin from an unlabeled jug! At least your sugar water would just be a sweet treat for anyone who drank it.

    We love Elf and watch it every year as a family along with A Christmas Story. Good family fun!

    1. I haven't had time to read the latest issue of Bee Culture, but I will now -- Dying to find out what happened to Marilyn! LOL! That's hysterical!!!

      Yes, being TF does have some advantages, although my syrup is bright green so it's pretty obviously not milk. :-)

      BTW, thanks for the heads up about the weather. Will be tying down my hives this weekend just in case.

      Saw your post about the colony with varroa. Fingers crossed for you!


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