It has been a long time since last we updated. The bees have been working and we have been observing even if we have not been sharing our notes with our few readers. Let us quickly catch up now.
Day 30, Sat, 23 Jul We finally swapped syrup jars yesterday. The old one was quite empty and the new one held another 700ml.
Day 31, Sun 24 Jul Officially 101°F here with a heat index of 114. It is the hottest day so far in our recent heat wave. Our blue hive sits mostly in full sun so, although we have been trying to leave the bees alone since the last inspection, we have been watching them at the entrances, where we saw foragers coming and going regularly with many of them bringing back some light yellow pollen, and taken a few peeks through the observation window to see how they are managing the heat. In particular we have been watching for ‘bearding’, the clustering of bees at the front of the hive. We definitely saw heavy bearding at several Langstroth hives on Sunday when we went to the MSU Tollgate Educational Center to observe a ‘sugar roll’ demonstration (That’s another post we owe.) but none on ours. Our hive is not very populous yet. And between the natural comb not extending the entire length of the bars and the medium frames not reaching the deep bottom the air currents should move freely. Then too there is some speculation that ventilation is more a concern in a vertical than a horizontal hive. In any case, we are taking the lack of bearding as a sign that it is not excessively hot in the hive.
Day 32, Mon, 25 Jul A peek through the observation window showed an unusual sight. A bee running around the screened bottom with another riding it and apparently trying to sting it. The rest of the bees seemed unconcerned. We had to move on before seeing the conclusion to this little drama.
Day 34, Wed, 27 Jul Swapped in a new jar of syrup.
Day 35, Thu, 28 Jul There is a roughly sixty foot square of ground intended to become a garden/orchard. We had covered in plastic some months ago to cook the grass and weeds. They did not entirely break down to leave bare dirt but the plant detritus was quite dry and loose. We scraped it off with our garden tractor and sowed a few pounds of buckwheat as a smother crop. The buckwheat ought to sprout quickly to shade out any new weeds, improve the soil, and bloom to provide the bees another nectar source.
Day 38, Sun, 31 Jul – The syrup was empty so we replaced it. Bees at opening fanning. The buckwheat is up.
Day 40, Tue, 2 Aug There are bare patches among the buckwheat. Inconsistent sowing? Inconsistent seed? Inconsistent dining by birds? In any case we sowed a few more pounds of buckwheat to cover the bare spots.
Day 42 Thu, 4 Aug Syrup down by 200ml. The bees are still bringing in the pollen. We finally saw a bee in the herb bed that might be one of ours. The blooming oregano, basil, and the rest have not been lacking pollinators in general, just ones from our hive.
Day 45, Sun, 7 Aug The syrup is down by 400 ml.
Day 46, Mon, 8 Aug Goldenrod just beginning to bloom.
That catches us up. Overall the bees seem to be going about their business steadily. We are still worried that the population is not building up as quickly as we were expecting. The coming goldenrod bloom is, assuming sufficient rain, the last big local nectar flow before winter. They will need a suitably sized workforce to take advantage of it.