Beez pleezz

Trish Stretton

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I wanted to get to the point that I had fruit all year round, so I spent quite a bit of time working out which sort of fruit and which type to get.
As well as that, for a number of years before I got the hive, I sowed brassicas specifically so that they would be flowering from late winter through to mid- late spring.
The reason for that was that we often have warm winters followed by heavy frosts in Spring- but warm days after the frosts lifted. I discovered by accident that the bees loved these flowers.
I'm lucky in that I have a number of either wild or neglected areas within flight range from me which should give the bees variety.

I also have a number of Hebe's and/or Koromiko- some are native, some arent. Rosemary is another favorite.
I always have things like Herb Robert growing in various places cos both the honey bees and bumblebees love them, as well as Fumitory, even though I hate it, the bumblebees love it.

Wild 'herbs and flowers' are allowed to grow in out of the way places. While they arent heavily worked by bees, they do have regulars who visit them. Things like sow thistle, forget me nots, scarlet pimpernel, Dandelions I specifically spread, bluebells, jonquils, all heal(prunella), plantain, borage- lost that one this year somehow so I need to re sow it next spring.
I have been trying to watch to see what ' critical mass' they need for a plant type to become of interest to them. One thing I did notice this year, was that they started visiting most flowers at least a week after it started to flower, not straight away.

I think its a good idea to let them have access to as many different types of wild plants as I can, so long as they arent too invasive.
 

Trish Stretton

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My Step father is starting bee keeping. What do you plant for your bees?
From gardening I have noticed the bees love my thyme, borage, organo and of course melissa.
I'd like to give him some herbs for his bees.
One thing that would help him, is to find out when his bees have a dearth- thats when there isnt alot flowering, then research what Does flower at the time and give him Heaps of those. It takes more than just one or two plants usually to make bees interested in them, unless it is a med-large shrub or even better, a tree.
 

flowerbug

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penny royal was an incredible bee attractor but one of those plants that will become invasive. we thought it was oregano for years and let it do what it wanted until one time i said, "Gee perhaps i should use some?" and it wasn't oregano. since it had spread to all of the surrounding gardens and been taking over it took me several years to get most of it removed. some is still around.

late summer bee forage until frosts that attracts all sorts of different bees is the cosmos. i planted some this year and they've sprouted. so far the herbivores have not found them. :)
 

Redd Tornado

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One thing that would help him, is to find out when his bees have a dearth- thats when there isnt alot flowering, then research what Does flower at the time and give him Heaps of those. It takes more than just one or two plants usually to make bees interested in them, unless it is a med-large shrub or even better, a tree.
What a smart idea, thanks.
 

Trish Stretton

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Its the middle of winter here and it is Warm. We have had a couple of quite hard frosts which didnt lift til midmorning but the day time temps are too warm....convovulus still growing!!!!

Consequently, the bees are bringing in more and more pollen, which means they are ramping up the brood laying.
Every day I am glad I decided to but this hive with its window so now that I turned it around so the window is on the sun side, I can see where they are and get a better idea of what they are up to.

They havent started using the frames of honey past the 12 frame, so I am not too worried that they will eat all their stores and starve when the weather turns nasty/colder which is good.

I have been worrying about them going out foraging when it is drizzling though because a few times it has then hammered down and I just know there are bees out in this that may not be able to get back.

Yesterday, I did another Oxalic Acid treatment and again only got one mite after 24 hrs. My mentor cant figure them out, so because I know they have brood rearing going on, I will be treating them on a 4 day cycle for the next week and a bit to make sure any hatching bees get to lose their hitch-hiker.
 

Trish Stretton

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Yep..
Next Spring, the idea is to cycle out the unshaved down Small Cell frames for those that have been shaved down to 30-32mm wide. That would have been the plan last Spring/Summer if I hadnt messed up.

It appears that it isnt enough to just put in Small Cell frames, they need to be made narrower as well.
This means that the bees hatching out of these cells are shorter as well as thinner and my hope is that I will see them hatching out at least a day earlier than 'normal' bees do, like others have documented.

If all goes according to plan, this will mess up the Varroa mites reproductive cycle cos the bees will have hatched out before the mites are ready for them to do so.

Unfortunately, at this point, there are always varroa around and anyone who thinks otherwise and doesnt Do anything to at least hinder them is going to lose their bees.
I have been very lucky in that with all my inexperience, I havent lost my hive and am very aware that its been sheer dumb luck so far....

I am hoping to set up another hive using some of the frames from the first one and to split the hive so I have two. Thats going to be an interesting challenge.
 

kiliyatsia

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Just as every year is different, so too is the way the hive responds.
I had to start a diary this year just on the bees. The main concern has been with the mite counts and when to apply a treatment. I have a mesh screen under the hive with a sliding tray that I oil to catch the mites. Oiling the tray also stops the ants from removing them as well as trapping wax moths.

I use this tray to give me an idea of what the mite load is and when it gets a bit too hard to see them amongst the fallen debris, I wipe it clear and re oil it.
Because the colony was so small this year, with so little brood, it seems like they have not had much problems with this pest this year. My mentor couldnt understand why the mite count remained so low all summer And into fall and didnt know if this did have anything to do with the fact that I had the on small cell frames. His hives are allowed to build whatever sized comb they like, which is what I had done in the first year as my stage one part of my long term plan.

When I first got the hive I was using food grade mineral oil which was 'fogged' into the hive from below. It appeared to work but in the next spring, they were in trouble, so I tried the next softest treatment- Apilife-var and the mites fell like rain.

This spring I had to put in a strong chem treatment to turn things around- I had messed up my late summer early fall treatment and needed a more drastic measure.
I was pretty sure that the mite count had been so low this summer because of this chem treatment as well as the fact that unlike most beekeepers, I only have one hive, not the minimum of two.
To be honest, I did wonder why I was bothering trying to go treatment free if these worked so well....then I remembered people like Michael Bush saying they used these and were still losing their bees.

There is something not right with the fact that any lifeform should have to be chemically treated JUST to stay alive. I feel that something is just not right with this, so I will keep on trying. Others have got their bees to the point where they do not have to treat with anything, I think that is a pretty good goal to aim for.

This summer just gone, I have returned to a softer treatment, even though it does mean doing more often and have been using Oxalic acid which is vapourized using a nifty gadget attached to a small battery and left on for two minutes. In some countries, this is not yet legal, but fortunately, here in New Zealand it is....just.

There have been a few things that I have noticed just from watching the hive and/or the bees in my yard.
Its said that bees do not forage within 50 meters of the hive. While most of them do fly off the property there are still a number that do make use of the flowers here. I think it has a lot to do with what type of plant it is- the quality of the plant type and what I call the 'critical mass'. Is there enough of a plant type to make it of interest to them.
For example.
The 2 foot high Rosemary hedge is only 4 meters long and was right behind the hive. A week or so after it started flowering, it was smothered in bees that I watched fly out of the hive and straight to the hedge. There Were others that flew in from elsewhere to this little hedge. As far as I could work out, they went off in at least 6 different directions, meaning there were at least 6 other hives somewhere within flight range of this hedge.

The other thing I really like about this hive, is the window that I can look through to see what is going on. this has a door clipped up when I am not being nosy so they dont have to put up with sunlight in the hive. I now have this on the sun side over winter so I can keep a better eye on what is going on with them over winter.
It is fascinating to watch them go about their daily business. I have had to wean myself off doing this too often even though I have learnt so much from watching.

My winter bee project is to make up another long hive. I'm not going to build it from scratch, I am using pre-made Jumbo deep boxes and bolting three together to make a long hive from them. I will need to make a roof for it, but that shouldnt be too hard.
I have come to the conclusion that in order to do this successfully, you really do need to be an experienced beekeeper. I'm not there yet, so that goal is still way over there on the horizon....but I do have a master plan to get there. so far, in spite of hiccups, I think we are a couple of steps further along.
 
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