September 9, 2013 Backtracking and Starting Over
You’ll recall from my previous post “Prepping the Girls for Winter” that I had just added a mite treatment (ApiLife Var) to Green and Yellow hives, and I swapped out the feeders for the “no drown” top feeders. You may also recall that I included a list of recommendations when using the mite treatment. However, the following day, I realized I left off one very, very important recommendation….
Check the Weekly Weather Forecast Before Treating!!!
When using certain mite treatments, the temperatures must remain below 90 and above 53 degrees. I thought I was in the clear because the weekend was gorgeous. Then the hubster, also known as Doppler Don, told me the temperatures would excel into the low 90s by mid-week. Of course he tells me this AFTER I already added the mite treatments.
Keep in mind, I’m already losing sleep thinking about my poor girls being fumigated out of their home for the next 3 weeks. Now they’re at risk because I didn’t check the temperatures for the week ahead. Ugh!!!
So I made yet another snap hive management decision and was determined to remove the tablets that evening. But wait, I had a vet appointment and another meeting scheduled that night. Ugh!
I made the 5:30 vet appointment (for my dog, not for me) and got home around 6:30 pm. It was already getting dark outside. I lit the smoker, suited up and started pulling the hives apart. Green Hive (GH1) was a success, I carefully removed all 4 tablets. Yellow Hive (YH2), not so much. I had lost one of the 4 tablets between the frames when they were added. And as I lifted the box, I noticed another tablet was missing. I was only able to recover 2 tablets and could not find the other two, even after digging another level deeper. Ugh! Which leads me to yet another recommendation that I’d overlooked…
Caging the Tablets
The tablets should be caged in some sort of mesh or wire. That way the bees can’t chew on them, and they won’t so easily fall between the frames. In fact, you could even staple them to the frames to ensure they stay in place. Next time (assuming I actually try to do this again), I will cut pieces of window screen and will staple around the tablets to create a sort of mite treatment pillow.
I closed up the hives and ended with feeding. This was my first time filling up the new feeders, which I thought would be much easier and much less stressful for the bees. I opened the top covers and the feeders were PACKED with bees. Not only were they packed with bees, but the floats, made of cut sections of queen excluders, allow the bees to crawl underneath the floats. The entire bottom areas of the feeders were lined with bees who, theoretically should crawl back up through the queen excluder mesh to escape drowning.
Removing the feeders and emptying the bees out is not nearly as simple as it may sound. I decided to take the risk in hopes that the bees would be smart enough, and fast enough to crawl back through the excluders before making contact with the syrup. No so. Some made it out, but the syrup was like a runny river of death for most of the bees left beneath the floats.
What’s more, the floats were stuck to the side, so when I poured the syrup, the floats didn’t float! You can imagine at this point the girls were not happy with me, Beezilla, again… It was horrible for them, it was horrible for me. They were fed, it was dark, I was exhausted.
Back to Buckets
Currently, I’ve left the top feeder on Blue Hive (BH3) because it does help with robbing, and because there are so fewer bees, they don’t line the feeders, so drowning is not a problem and the feeders work as intended.
GH1 and YH2 are back to buckets. I can’t use buckets in winter because they are taller than the medium boxes and they leave a substantial gap at the top. I’m torn between the Collins Feeders, which are shallower bucket feeders with a wider distribution of holes and some other helpful features, or making adjustments to our existing feeders ($22 a pop!) so the bees can’t get down into the bottoms.
I’m usually good about reading reviews, but somehow I overlooked the reviews for Brushy Mountain’s “no drown” feeders. None were good and all reiterated my exact experience. Ugh!
The Good News (Long Term)
Unfortunately for the girls, I learn the most from my mistakes and oversights, but the good news is that these lessons are hard to forget, even for my middle-aged “chipmunk” brain. So at least the future generations will benefit from the suffering and demise of their ancestors.