Spring is finally starting up.  The weather is warming (a bit) and the flowers have begun popping out.  I've found many wild flowers and "weeds" blooming as well as the apple trees.
This is an older, smaller tree out back, adjacent to the hives.  There are plum trees next to this and a larger, full sized apple out front.  The neighbors have several apple and pear trees as well.  Walking under these one is surrounded by a constant humming.

As I expect, the honey bees are present working over the flowers.  The trees are so full of flowers, they don't have to search far.

But there is competition!  The apples are loaded with these guys, bumblebees.  They have a much heavier throbbing buzz, often circling my head as they try to locate the flowers.  Bumblebees are solitary and do not live in hives like the honey bees.  They build nests instead, often in the ground. 

It is good to see them, even if they are competing.  The number of species of bumblebees has been in decline in recent years.  They are very good pollinators and work the  flowers over vigorously.  In  fact, I have noticed that they have been hitting the apples more than the honey bees.  I expected heavy coverage from my bees, but it was less than anticipated.  Watching the hives, I noticed several bees heading out and flying south, opposite in direction of the apples.  This seems strange, but they evidently have something more interesting elsewhere (I never figured out what).  Once they are on to a flower source, they tend to concentrate on that, no matter what else is around them. 

In the last couple of days the apples have slowed down in blooms, losing most of their petals.  This evening, however, I found the bees flying into the hive with very heavy pollen loads.  They were so heavy many were having trouble flying and getting into the entrance.  They are very good at finding sources and have found another place to hit for now.  All good signs.

This weekend, I also did a bit of late spring maintenance, getting ready for summer and the fall-winter to follow.  The bees were centered in the middle of the hive with the follower boards on each side.  The syrup feeder was on one end (there is a hole in the follower board to give them access).  As they are building more and more comb, they need room.  I can keep moving the follower board on the left out, but may run out of space.  They are also not using the feeder anymore so, I took that out and shifted all the combs down to the right.  This gives us more room.  They will, hopefully, start filling honey comb towards the open space on the left as I move the follower out. Shifting to the end also prevents them from making honey stores on both ends.  That could be bad in the winter if they trap themselves on one end of the hive away from the remaining honey stores (the bees have limited movement when it is cold). In the fall, before winter sets in, I will harvest a few combs of honey from the left and recenter them in the hive.  This will give them a bit of insulation and allow room for the feeder again over winter.  I also want to be sure to leave plenty of honey comb for them to live off of during the winter.  The feeder will be there, but honey is better for them.  The winter here is long, though, and they'll probably need some feeding.

I also added a couple of empty bars to the right side, where the brood is.  This is supposed to help keep them busy making brood, boosting hive numbers, and limiting the swarming potential.  Somewhat of an experiment for now to see how they handle it.

So, we continue on.  Until next time....


Ma Daniels
06/08/2011 10:24

This old gal is so Happy that the trees finally bloomed & that the bees have some exciting places to forrage! I love to hear how they are doing & all of the pics & explainations. Wow! I never guessed that those little creatures were so organized! Thanks for all the info

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