Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If You Can't Run With the Big Dogs...

Here are some updates for January:
In January, we visited our friends in Frankfort, Kentucky at Dadant to purchase some supplies. We got more frames and foundation and headed back to Tennessee. We stopped in Byrdstown to get some lumber for the supers. Since then, we have been building the supers and frames to get ready for Spring. We have also been feeding them lightly (to keep their spirits up) and sprinkling sugar on a piece of newspaper and placing that on top of the frame. This serves to give them a little boost as well as absorbs moisture in the hive.

Given the cold weather, we had gotten lax about using smoke to subdue them since the cold does that to some extent. The Cookeville hives were fine without the use of smoke, yet we visited Sparta on a warmer day. When Greg popped the top on the Sparta hives, they met him with guns a'blazing. Without smoke, the only casulties of this battle were Greg, James, and Glen's dog (who took particular offense at this and rightly blamed Greg and James).

Bees-1 Bee Squad-0

Next time, there will be smoke.

The Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre

One thing you don't expect the day after Christmas is a call about bees. We received a call from a friend whose son had cut into a hive while cutting wood. This particular acquaintance has had his share of run-in's with our flighty friends and has called us several times before. He knew the bee squad responds to calls in rain, sleet, snow, and despite post-holiday food induced comas.

Upon arrival, we witnessed a freezing flurry of activity coming from a freshly cut oak log. Our friends had unknowingly chosen a feral colony's home as their firewood and the bees were unamused at the disruption of their winter's slumber.

Upon inspection, Greg decided that some rubber mats would do the trick. The chain saw had cut directly into the colony and left the entire hive exposed; the mats were cut into strips and nailed onto the log to cover the damage (this was to mainly keep the rain out). A piece of plywood was used to cover the exposed end of the hollow log. We think this solution will keep the rest of the colony safe until Spring and that if the queen survived the "chainsaw massacre", they should be in good shape. If she didn't survive, they have little chance of making it through the winter.

We will go back in the Spring and check on the status of this hive. If they are survivors, we will relocate them to a new home on the farm.

Feral Honeybees are a valuable asset to your collection of hives. These survivor hives have proved strong through winters already, without chemicals. The idea is to raise your queens from strong, survivor hives so that you can introduce them to hives to breed stronger, healthier bees, with little to no chemicals. Finding and making use of these feral survivor colonies could be the key to saving bee keeping.