Saturday, March 24, 2012

Miracle Bees

     On February 30th we picked up our two packages of hybrid Carnolian bees from New Zealand. From the start we were very concerned because the temperature was 5-6 degrees Celsius below normal and often hovering below freezing with the wind chill factor.  One hive appeared far weaker in numbers and activity than the other.  It was difficult to check the hives because of the cold, windy, wet weather.  I checked the hives on day 3 and then again on day 10.  We had fed the bees with sugar cakes and pollen patties but were worried about their survival.  After 2 weeks the weather was particularly cold (-5 with the wind chill) and I brought the hives into the greenhouse to inspect them. Although there was some activity in one hive, which was clustered closely on the pollen patty, the other hive appeared completely lifeless.  We trained a temperature gun on the active hive cluster which read 18 degrees Celsius ( 64 fahenheit ).

On the lifeless hive the bee cluster read 6 degrees Celsuis ( 43 fahrenheit ).  I picked up the lifeless cluster of bees in my hand and there was absolutely no movement.  With little hope for survival I left the seemingly lifeless colony of bees in the greenhouse overnight.  The greenhouse, although unheated was 5-6 degrees celsius warmer than outside and windless.  The next day after work I checked the hive and to my amazement the cluster of lifeless bees was actively feeding on the pollen patty.

     We fed the bees dry sugar (the mountain camp method), syrup (on the advise of the long time commercial beekeeper and the person we bought the packages from) and pollen patties.  The bees have ignored the dry sugar and taken to the pollen patties.  From the beginning I disagreed with feeding the bees syrup because of the cold temperatures and as I expected there are dead bees in the syrup and it has since been ignored. In one week the strong hive has consumed much of the pollen patty and unfortunately combed most of the feeding eke.

I removed the comb and will remove the feeding eke as the temperatures this week appears high enough for the bees to leave the cluster to feed.

     Checking both the new hives for brood we were delighted and more than a little surprised to see both capped and uncapped larvae in both the hives.

Because my eyesight is not the best I like to use a magnifying glass at times to check on the larvae.

     Today was a balmy 10 degrees celsius and the ladies were going crazy.  Our original hive of girls were actively collecting yellow pollen, probably from nearby forsythia.  There was no observed pollen collected from the new weak hive but some from the new stronger hive.  Stay tuned as we will update the progress of the new hives through the spring.


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