Hey bee peeps! Check this out. I thought it was exciting so I’m going to share this with you. After suffering through the covid lock downs, shut down bee stores and supporting my Mom as she was diagnosed with Altzeimers through all that. I now have her in a memory care facility close to my home for frequent visitation. That is why I have not been very active on the forum. But life is going back to normal somewhat.
So, here’s the interesting stuff that has been going on in my small apiary. Last year I saw a carpenter bee and a red wasp made several attacks on one of my hives and I believe it caused the bees to abandon the hive.
Additionally, during the lock downs people in my neighborhood suddenly were concerned with insects and many sprayed for God knows what all summer. I was lucky to hang on to 2 of my 4 hives.
This spring things are looking very cheery as over the winter I ordered 2 nuks of Russians to set my apiary back to rights. I was feeling risky! I had one swarm which I captured and relocated to a friends house and then discovered a hive I left sitting in the back yard had a swarm move in. Now I’m at 3 hives of 4 and I have 2 nuks to be delivered. I re-homed one hive to a gardening club of ladies who are thrilled. I also bought a new queen for the hive that swarmed because the new queen never made it back to the hive.
The new Russians are installed and my hive is requeened and I’m thinking about the genetics of the apiary until they turn to mutts based upon who knows what kind of drones my queens might mate unless they mate a drone from the hive. How cool is that?
OK next on my discussion of this and that. The Russians draw the cells out longer with honey than my Italians do. Maybe its just my apiary or the nectar flow as there are many factors to consider and I’m no expert. At any rate I’m geeking out of observations this year. Whoop!
My neighbor has honey suckle all over his yard and I see no bees on them. He said that the bees don’t have a long enough tongue or apparatus to get to the nectar. My part of the debate is that I’ve seen my bees crawl into spaces where only their back legs could be seen. So thoughts?
OK the flow 2 new stand was perfect for wintering over here in TN. Thanks team! Now if I can get my hands on the ant fighters for the legs I’m set!
OK back to the Russians. They are a different color than the Italians. Their coloring is a bit more striking than the Italians. The baby bees are fuzzy as heck too.
So dear friends of the forum. I have missed chatting and growing and gaining knowledge with you as we beek keep together.
I think not all honeysuckle is created equal. The invasive honeysuckle around here is inaccessible to honey bees although they do sometimes drink through holes in the base of the flowers made by other insects.
Maybe some of the European or native varieties are able to be accessed by the honeybees’ tongues.
@Wizard just mentioned that he has bees working the honeysuckle, I wonder what variety he has, I think you’re both in TN.
Yeah, soooo native honeysuckles are long and inaccessible to bees. The invasive Japanese honeysuckles are shorter and the bees can get a great deal out of them. I live next to a creek full of Japanese honeysuckles.
If you want to identify: Japanese honeysuckles split and are not very tubular. The native species has about 1" to 2" long flower tube, it’s the kind we plucked as kids to eat the nectar from. The Japanese ones leave your tongue dry.
@Martha I’m so glad things are returning to normal a bit for you
Interesting about the Russians making longer cells, I never knew!
@Wizard that’s good info about the honeysuckles, thanks. Guess we ‘foraged’ on the native type as kids…tons of it in my yard then and now.
I finally got around to all that scraping and repainting today. Two Flow roofs, a standard lid and 5 boxes are ready for colorful top coats
Hi Martha, I’m also pleased that things are getting back to normal for you.
This is a great thread you started. There’s probably no “going off topic”. Fantastic.
I can’t comment on Honey suckles, however the beautiful displays of Golden Pendas we had a month ago are finished.
Things are cooling down here, as we approach winter. They expect maximums of 23C & minimums of 12C. It might be time to put a cardigan on when that happens.
I’m doing some painting myself. I made a heap of slatted racks. I’m painting them in batches of ten, with boxes, lids & bottom boards, every week (in between robbing) until they’re all done.
Interesting and thank you for sharing what you know about the honeysuckle plants.
What was you experience with the Russians? I’m sure liking them so far but hey, they are only in my yard for 1 week now. But boy are they industrious! So far not aggressive like word has it as my Italians are more aggressive at this point.
I built 2 roofs then discovered I needed a 3rd. A lesson I learned is make sure you get the roof and inner cover for the model you have. If you upgrade get the corresponding inner cover.
Hi Martha, I deleted that part after thinking about it. I was being political on account of what’s happening in Europe at the moment. I got spoken to in the past for commenting about vaccines.
I had some Russian bees when I first started out. They were nice & quiet until they swarmed. The new queen’s progeny was very aggressive. I was told that that can happen once they cross with different strains. I’ve used Italians ever since.
I haven’t bought any queens for quite a few years, so therefore all of my queens are local Italian cross mutts. I get rid of any queens from angry hives, resulting in bees that are easy to manage, with smoke.
I breed from the best performing colonies, which results in good performers, that are easy to manage.
Edit: It’s lunch time & I ran out of paint. As it turns out I can’t buy any more until tomorrow on account of a Labor Day public holiday. I didn’t figure on the hardware store that only closes on Christmas Day (so I thought) would be closed on Labor Day.
I think we all have those thoughts about war events. My bee buddy’s here call my nuks Putin bees. I just thought you might get a kick out of that. Thanks for letting me know about future second generation bees.
I was listening to the bee culture podcast and a bloke they were talking to said the “pure” russians are pretty good but the crosses get cranky. In USA there is a very select group/club that breed them.
Beekeeping today podcast S2 E32 if you are interested.
All my years of beekeeping I was of the same thinking…i.e. honeybees don’t work honey suckle. And then last year I was out hiking in a nearby park and the wild honey suckle were blooming in a spectacular fashion…and the honey bees were working them.
Someone explained the different species of the honeysuckle. I think I need some of those vines the bees like.
I think the year after they will be mutts.
I’ve never seen honeysuckle that shade of pink, so pretty! Around here it’s either cream or pale yellow. There’s an ornamental type that’s more of a coral color with yellow stamens that people buy from nurseries/not wild. Mine just opened & I saw a hummingbird on it for the first time this afternoon
The pink is California honeysuckle ( Lonicera hispidula.) It could also be tatarian, which is invasive, bells honeysuckle.
I’m leaning towards bells.
You definitely dont want them.
Pretty sure this is a Tartarian Honeysuckle…native to Siberia…but thrives in the wilds of northern Canada. They are beautiful and provide color in the natural landscape in late spring and colorful berries later in the summer…more shrub like than a climber/vine.
I’m going to look for it at the nursery.
Plus: I’m so excited as I have one hive that is bringing in nectar at a rate I’ve never seen before in my apiary. In 3 days they have filled up 4 frames. I’m gob smacked and obsessed with watching the progress of that rate of nectar transfer. My other 3 hives are lazy bums compared to this one hive I have.
So it’s raining a lot here in Tennessee and the ants come out in force. So since I don’t have the new hives with ant control I’m going to try this trap since I can change it faster. I think this can be done around the areas in which I store my hive supplies which the ants get into as well.