Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Hard to Potty Train A Honey Bee

Like everyone else, we've been struggling with our honey bees.  It's been quite difficult to build up strong hives which will consistently survive our rather long, and sometimes frigid, winters let alone simply keep them alive at this time in history when whole apiaries are being decimated.

Going into this winter we had a few strong hives along with two nucs about which Papa Pea was concerned.  Neither of the nucs contained a large population of bees, and he was afraid they might not be able to generate enough warmth to keep them alive over our coldest months.

To help them along through any possible winter time difficulties, he moved them onto our south facing deck and up against the house.

For the last three days, we've been experiencing a fantastic reprieve from the cold with lovely sunshine and temperatures hovering in the low 30s.

A great time for the bees as it's made conditions opportune for them to get out of the hives for cleansing flights and needed housecleaning (hive cleaning?).

And have they ever been taking advantage of the opportunity.


The deck area in front of the two nucs is plastered with . . . well, bee poop.  You would think the least they could do was go into the nearby woods to . . . umm, do what needs to be done.


All in all, it's a very good thing for the health and happiness of the bees.  For the surface of our deck boards, not so much.  Seriously, we're very grateful for this break in the weather and for great indications that these two little nucs are currently alive and well.

23 comments:

DFW said...

Bee poop is something I have never given a second thought about. I'm exposed to new knowledge every day!

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Yep, we can always learn something new, can't we? ;o}

Susan said...

Who knew?! I suppose wee-wee pads are out of the question... :)

Little Homestead In Boise said...

And what is a nuc?

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Too expensive for thousands of bees. (Can you envision the size of the pads?)

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - A nuc (short for nucleus colony) is a very small colony of a few thousand bees and a queen. A nuc forms the beginning of what is hoped to eventually turn into a new full-sized hive.

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

How about straw can it help if you put a layer down in front of the hives?

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Because the bee droppings are not sticky or otherwise "shoe-clinging" and will wash off with the first rain (maybe even snow), we're not really concerned. What amazes me is when you think of the size of a honey bee the "spots" are quite big!

Mark said...

Always wanted to have bees, and we will someday. Seems like there is always more to learn. Our winters aren't as cold, but it seems like everyone no matter what climate is struggling with keeping their hives going.

Goatldi said...

Not to mention the impact on the environment ! Running and ducking!

Jimmy loof said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mama Pea said...

Mark - When we lived in northern Illinois, we had no problem at all keeping bees. But that was before our environment started becoming so toxic that the bees are having a hard time of it. I would think your location would be good for honey bees at least as far as your climate goes.

Leigh said...

What a great post title! LOL. I read that bees will do this if they get brown sugars (in their bee syrup) but I didn't know about this otherwise. Of course, I'm still a novice beek, one who needs to start looking round to fill her empty hives.

Anonymous said...

What great news that the nucs are ok! You have inspired me to strap on the snowshoes today and go out to see if there is any activity at this homestead's hives. Our fields are providing the habitat for another beekeeper's hives. It has been fun for us and educational.- M

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Nope, no brown sugars fed to our bees. (Unless they went out and bought some themselves!) Just their natural cleansing flight "debris." We feel so fortunate that all of our bees had this opportunity to get out as in our long, harsh winters it's sometimes very difficult for them to encounter a warm enough day to do so.

Wishing you the best of luck in getting your hive(s) going again this year. Your climate should be much more favorable to them than ours! But, of course, there are other serious problems facing the bees right now.

Mama Pea said...

M - Yes, all our bees welcomed these past few days to take their cleansing flights. But, shhhh, we still have a couple/few months of winter for them to make it through. Hope the hives on your homestead looked like they were getting out and about, too.

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - :o}!

Laurie said...

Yikes, that's a lot of poop! Glad to hear that the Bee's are doing ok.

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - You can say that again . . . on both counts! ;o}

Erin said...

Ha! One of those things that never gets noticed until you bring the hives up to a place like a deck! Learn something new every day. Hope your bees have a healthy winter and come out strong, it's just horrifying what is happening with the world's bees...

Mama Pea said...

Erin - And most people don't even realize that if we destroy the bee population, pollination of crops (both individual gardens and commercial fields) will suffer to the point that we may not be able to grow enough food to feed ourselves. Horrifying, indeed.

Fiona said...

thats awesome

Mama Pea said...

Fiona - I'm thinking the bees thought it was awesome that they had good enough weather in January (up here in the north) to get out for a cleansing flight!