JUNE ’24 in the APIARY

What a weird spring we have had. Days of rain, then sun then rain again. It has created a dearth of nectar and pollen that we usually only see after the blackberry flow. It has happened because the rain washes away the pollen and nectaries full of resources. With fast changing weather, the flowers did not get a chance to refill. If you looked at the blackberries that were flowering, there was not a bee in sight. No honey bees, no bumbles, no foragers of any kind. It took multiple days of sun in a row to refill the forage. So, we have been feeding major amounts of syrup. This has passed, but I think the flow will not be a good one this year.
As for inspections, do you make a plan first and bring all that you think you will need with you to the bee yard? I have a gorilla wagon and I have it loaded with things that I use every time. I load lighter, tools, treatments, feed (pollen and syrup), fuel for the smoker, the smoker and my notebook, which is where I keep my bee log. (I write in the margins what I think I will need to do next visit, so I am better prepared.) I bring a couple of extra inner covers so I can cover boxes I am not in. I put one on a box that I am going to remove, so the bees are less likely to fly up at me. I put one under a box that I remove, so if the queen is in that box and falls, she will not be somewhere in the grass where she can get stepped on.  I always light a smoker. I rarely use it on the bees, but rather use it to disguise me or to smoke where a bee has stung me to mask the pheromone that indicates to the other bees, “sting here!”
  I think the bee brushes are awful! The plastic bristles stab the bees. It pisses them off. I use a feather instead. Turkey feathers are the right size. I have a Blue and Gold Macaw who molts each spring. I save the feathers. Beeks who visit me often go home with a beautiful feather of their own. Remember the combs are slanted upwards so the nectar, etc. doesn’t fall out. So, brush up the frame or you are hurting the bee’s feet and wings. That pisses them off. You can buy feathers online.
When I inspect, I take extra inner covers out to cover the boxes I am not working in. Remember, if you are looking for a queen, if you separate the boxes, it keeps the queen from running away between the boxes. Darkness is also calming for the bees. And the cover helps keep the temperature static.
Bees can sense your fear. Take a couple of deep breaths. Move slowly. Did you know the bees recognize faces? They communicate with smells and dances. So don’t wear perfumy things like hair shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and lotions. Body odor is bad. Wearing black or fuzzy make the bees think of bears. Even red is a problem, because bees see ultraviolet colors and RED is BLACK. I walk around my hives when I am not working them. See me. Smell me. The middle of the day is easier to work bees. The foragers, which are about half the hive, are gone. Later in the hot days are good for the beekeeper. Just don’t go really late, as the bees aren’t happy then.
Don’t forget to put extra wax on new frames or spray them with sugar water. The bees will work those frames faster.
If you don’t own a frame holder, you are missing out. If you put frames on the ground your queen could be lost or stepped on.
Don’t forget to wash your suit! If a bee stings it, the alarm pheromone doesn’t easily fade away.
If you have a request regarding something you would like me to write about, just text me.
I hope the bees will be doing better with the warm weather. I know I am.
Till next month, bee happy, eat honey and walk around the apiary more.
Kathy Cox Master Beekeeper
Website: Facebook.com/seattlehoneybees
Text: 206-465-1464