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Help save the bees!

A blog following the beekeepers at the University of Washington.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

24 November 2012

We are entering the time when the queen normally tapers down her egg laying to zero as the colony digs in for the long winter. By January she will start laying again. The success of the colony during the entire ensuing year depends on whether they get a good start. We will be experimenting with protein supplement this season, feeding it dry outside of the hive. The bees forage almost anytime when it is 1) light, 2) above 55 degrees F, 3) not raining. So we will see if they will be attracted to the artificial pollen (newest formulation available) as if it were from flowers. If so, this should help the queens build up their egg-laying ability and help nurse bees adequately feed the new larvae. If bad weather is prolonged, we'll feed it internally.

In the 1st attached photo, taken October 28th, you can see that they are still bringing in natural pollen! This scene could repeat itself any month of the year in our location, although the time between such opportunities for the bees gets longer and longer and the flowers become harder to find until Spring finally arrives. You can also see a drone at the far end of the landing platform. This is a bit odd because drones are supposed to be absent after the end of summer. They don't live very long, so the queen in this colony was apparently still laying drone eggs up to October. This is not a good thing. Drones take valuable energy to produce and maintain. They are also the preferred breeding choice for Varroa mites. Drones in the fall may prolong the Varroa infestation, which might otherwise naturally taper off as the queen stops laying drones and then stops laying any eggs.

You can see winterized hives in the second photo. So far, we've only had a couple of cold days, but the bees benefit from insulative retention of heat, their main product of the winter. Two of the "hives" (the tallest ones) are actually double-hives. We're trying this as an efficiency measure - reduces equipment in the field and the colonies can share heat. They are stacked two-high with a double screen separator between them and separate entrances. The 1st photo shows bees from the top hive of one double stack entering their hive from the top of the separator screen (white). They can also exit through the top inner cover entrance.

Next Bee Group meeting: Tuesday, December 4th, 4:00 p.m., Biology Greenhouse

If you would like to be part of the Bee Group, come to the meeting and you can be put on the list serve.

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