Beautiful Spring Honey
It has been a poor 'honey year" for bees in California. The Spring started out strong and some fine Vetch, Black Berry and Wildflower honey was brought in. We were able to make divides to make additional beehives, which is something we need to do every year. Our hive count is greatly lowered by natural die off of hives that just don't make it through the winter, along with hives being depleted in the Winter from shipping bees for venom therapy.
As Summer approached the Spring blossoms went away as usual, and the Star Thistle began to bloom. Star Thistle is an important honey source in our area, and we expected great things. However, the extremely hot summer set in with inadequate rain, and the thistle dried up early. The bees managed to bring in enough honey to keep going, but at a reduced rate, making them vulnerable tho Varroa Mites. Many of the young hives we had started became strong, but many died or are so small they will not make it through the winter. Such are the challenges of beekeeping!
Summer heat presented a problem when the temperature got over 100 degrees here. We ship orders of 3 cages in two shipping boxes to help the bees survive. In the Winter when the temperatures drop we include paper shreds in each package for some insulation.
Reports of bees arriving dead or dying too soon is a concern. Normal losses appear to be less than half a percent. I have looked in our records back to the first of 2016 and find the vast majority of those reporting dead bees on arrival have only lost one shipment or partial loss. Of those who lost more than one, most were not two but three to five orders arriving dead. Surprisingly, a couple of situations had a live box and dead box arriving together. (Whatever happens in a box seems to affect them all together.) Occasionally, three or more orders are reported to have arrived dead from the same shipping date. Mishaps or delays in the postal route can cause this. To compensate for bee losses we include at least five extra bees, so we sometimes receive requests to postpone an order because of surplus. If you do not have someone nearby to borrow from, we recommend having more on hand for emergency.
Bee cages can be recycled. We offer 75¢ for each cage returned to us. The cheapest postage is to mail them in a full "box rate" Priority Box, or simply return in the small mailer they come in.
The mailer will hold 8 cages, and with no candy weighs 11 oz.,
costing $3.97 postage.
Beeza Hut at etsy.com is a two chamber bee container
constructed specifically to handle these cages.
See their video on U-tube.
Bee Buddy is another excellent container for your bees,
and a video can be seen by finding them on Google.
Catching bees in the wild can be fun. An interesting school biology experiment shows that bees can tell time Various flowers yield nectar at specific time of the day. Bees will visit these flowers only at that time. This can be shown by putting out sugar syrup for them at a specific time each day. After that availability is learned the bees will not appear until that precise time.
Some people attempt to catch bees that gather at such a feed station. The question is why these bees may not last long after being caught. My guess is that these bees are field bees and are older gatherers and determined to returned to the hive. The bees we ship are from within the hive, being of all ages and not all programed with the specific duty of gathering and returning. If you are catching bees in this way they would probably be usable for a short duration.
After being caged together the bees become a cohesive unit. When two units are combined they may see each other as invaders. Our recommendation has been to wet them with a light sugar syrup and allow them to get acquainted as they clean each other, or not release them at all at once. Your comments on this or any other bee issue would be appreciated.
Moving Things Around
Allens Apitherapy Bees