Not a Clue...
What gets me out of bed in the morning?
A scalding cup of tea in bed delivered by J first, then a bee-wrangling related expedition.
I met up with Rob (Bad Bees), my maverick mentor at the school, where a swarm had been spotted yesterday afternoon.
The running joke is that I learn from Rob, because he shows me what 'not' to do. He's an old school practical beekeeper type - led by the 'Just-Do-It' attitude. We get along because he's easy going. I am not.
The first time he tried installing a split hive at our place, he forgot about them in the car for a day in the hot sun. When he finally got round to dropping them off, every single bee-soul was cooked.
The second time he tried, he left out a tub with an inch of honey outside the hive, thinking that they would clean it up.
Well, we had honey and drowned bee soup the morning after.
I sent him videos as evidence of the mass drowning event...it was horrific.
And, today he told me about the latest ooopsey...he caught a small swarm last week and picked it up in the evening thinking that the bees had all marched inside. The next morning, he met up with another newbie wanna-bee beekeeper and installed the box. When they peeped inside...it was completely empty...ta dah!
Anyway, he's keen to come over to get some queen rearing experiments underway because the drones in our area (according to my newbie observations) produce placid queens. He has over 100 hives and a commercial license, so we should have plenty of resources to get started this summer.
This is a picture of The Wombat colony.
I had a closer look at the feeder box that sits on top of the brood box.
It was full of bees, dead and alive. The dead ones did not have bodies attached, and the bodies were missing.
Could it be cannibalism?
It has been raining and cold over the last 48-72 hours, so the foragers have not had a chance to replenish nectar stores. Not only that, there's not enough drawn comb for them to store the nectar. Their first priority is to keep the queen warm and well fed.
The bees in the feeder box have been cut off from the main box without a means to independently leave the hive.
Bees are essentially a balloon with a hard outer shell filled mostly with a lipid jelly like mass called a fat body. I can imagine that it would be a source of emergency nutrition for an active mass of bees on the verge of starvation.
I will look it up to see if this has been observed by others.
I have pushed aside the heads and put in a shallow container of sugar syrup with sprigs of lavender in it to keep them from drowning.
A whole box of frames has been offered to these 'upper story' bees as well. They have already started to make bee-ladders to assist each other to travel onto the wax frames. I think walking in a line over each other helps to keep themselves warm and conserve energy. Important if you are deflated from hunger. Flying expends bee-jet fuel that they simply don't have.
Speaking of flying, the wind has been punishing today.
Not a good day for bee-pilots with a new license.
If you count - there are 1825 bees...just kidding!