Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bumble bee observation nest

I went to an open house event at an agricultural research facility, and I saw something that is really cool: A bumble bee nest!

The plastic top of the box that they are in is a little cloudy, so it is not possible to get a really clear picture. But you can still make out the pollen pots and see some individual bees. While I was observing them, I saw a new worker crawl out of the cell where it developed!

Pretty soon, these bees will start producing lots of drones and queens. The queens will mate and then hibernate underground for the winter. The drones and the worker bees will die in the fall. In the spring, the queens will emerge and look for a new nest so they can start laying eggs and start the whole process over.

From what I understand from the host of this display, the bees were purchased earlier this year and are used for pollination.

Bee update

I know haven't posted here for awhile, and that is partly because I have not been doing much for the bees for awhile. Since I did not harvest any honey, I am not feeding very much this year. Last year I made the mistake of feeding too much which I believe made the bees too strong early in April which led to a mid-April swarm. My original hive has a super of honey, so they should make it through the winter just fine. My other hive also has a fair amount of stored sugar syrup from my feedings earlier in the year. Basically, the bees have managed themselves.

The only thing that I did do was treat for varroa mites. In my first hive I used Apistan strips, and the second hive I gave them one packet of Api Life VAR. The directions called for two packs, but the mite counts were so low I did not think that a second pack was necessary. I guess the consequence of this is that the mites that were in capped cells for the two weeks that the Api Life VAR was on the hive were shielded from the mite treatment, but I am not too worried about this given the low mite drops prior to treatment.