Author Topic: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...  (Read 589 times)

Rojodiablo

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Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« on: October 18, 2020, 01:47:57 AM »
Man, my girls got it rough this last month finally. The rural hives are in Alpine Ca, and though it's been HOT, and was dry, the bees were finding decent amounts of stores, until the fires came thru. It seems the smoke, the super dry heat just finally shut off the buckwheat, and I saw only the tiniest bit of goldenrod, and another unknown ground plant that was flowering and looked promising, but not for now.....

I had fed them a patty each 5 weeks ago, and they were bringing in nectar and have water, so they were doing ok. But last Friday I went and checked them, and they were all still there, but hanging by a thread; zero stores of any kind in there. Like a few cells of pollen, in an entire frame. And hardly even any wetness in any cells, but larvae and hatching bees. I fed them the normal amount, and made a plan to boost the feed this Friday. I went back, put internal feeders, 1-1/2:1 and a patty for each. With zero stores, they are docile, I think they won't waste a lick of energy fighting unless absolutely necessary. (All pretty docile hives regardless, but total pussycats right now). The heat finally broke, and a few days down into the 80 range, after almost a hundred days over 100 in the last 4 months. One funny thing was after loading them up with enough food to jump start their house, the bees got VERY active; went outside, started cleaning all the drips, cleaning the feeder bottle edges, and going to my truck to raid the little bit of the patties in the trash bucket. It's like they know, the food inside is THEIRS, but they need to grab everything, everywhere they could.

I won't see them for three weeks, but the small, normal feed I gave them the week before boosted them a lot, so I am figuring the gallon and a third of light syrup, and a patty should hold them. I can not imagine how much of a nightmare this would be with a hundred, or God forbid a thousand hives.....

Dirt Rooster

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 05:27:44 PM »
I'll be going through mine this coming weekend to see what I've got.  I open fed for two weeks prior to leaving for vacation last week.  We got back this morning and I have cut outs lined up for the week or I'd be going through my hives now.  Fall flow is on now which is usually weak here but I think with all the feeding I did we should be good.  Anyway, Saturday or Sunday I'll find out what they look like. 

vadentwin

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2020, 08:27:17 AM »
Goldenrod in full bloom here (central FL) along with many other fall flowers. Lots of traffic. I haven't done any recent deep inspections but there seems to be a large number of orientation flights going on. Lots of pollen coming in, both orange and yellow. I put the extracted frames back on my boxes in hopes they would keep the moths and fungus off. It seems to have worked with the few quick peeks I have taken. Not sure is they are filling with nectar though.

Hope everyone that experienced Zeta this week are doing OK.



Rojodiablo

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2020, 10:10:12 PM »
Some weird, tiny little flower that looks like an old school lantern is blooming after our one and a half day of rain. hey look like a little dandelion bloom, but you could fit three of them on a single fingertip. I dunno what they are....... but BOY, they kick out some pollen. I have been feeding the surviving hives 1-1/3 gallon of 1.25:1 syrup, and an Ultra Bee pollen patty every two weeks for the last two months. This last weekend was the first time since August I have seen ANY honey stored, and a little itty bit of nectar on the frames.
They are hanging tough, I am very impressed at their tenacity. I pray they all make it; these are some of the most docile bees I have..... I'd like to split and supersede them in February or March if they can hang on.
They are still laying, and two of the five survivors have expanded a little bit; building and laying on one new frame in their hive. Still a long road ahead if there is no rain soon.

A question from this weekend's observation: How much stored pollen is TOO much? One hive is doing ok, but man alive, they have an entire frame gagged full of pollen, to where the queen can not even lay in it. I know the girls can clean it out at any time, to make room. But it seems their 'store food at all cost' work ethic has made a frame that is a real piece of work. I feel if I move it away from the brood, they will just do it all over again, AND, if I move it...... I will invite moths and beetles to go on a rampage in their hive. (So far this year, few moths, few beetles. I'd like to keep it that way if possible.) Any thoughts??

vadentwin

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2020, 06:39:08 AM »
I don't feed my bees pollen and I have seen them fill frames with pollen/bread. I haven't had an issue where I felt they were honey or pollen bound and as long as there are other frames to lay in I wouldn't move the pollen frames. They will put it where it is convenient to use and protect. I would think if there is no room to lay you could pull a brood frame and move to another hive rather than moving food, but I have not had to deal with this and I am only guessing.

Rojodiablo

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2020, 10:54:52 PM »
I'm of similar thoughts; I don't think any of these hives is strong enough to take any brood or resources away from them right now. On the strongest hive, I did move a built frame in between a couple of brood lade frames, as they had some decent resources and a good laying pattern. It has 4 pretty solid brood frames, and I don't think it will hurt them to shift a frame in, looks like he queen can handle another frame to fill. And, there is more food than a month ago, so I think they can sustain it.

Rojodiablo

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Re: Heavy dearth in rural San Diego. Fires made it worse...
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2020, 10:44:12 PM »
UPDATE: Went to see the girls and feed them the weekend before Christmasmas........ Finally.... FINALLY am seeing stability in the hives, very equal across the board. Looking like 5 frames of brood and bees in each hive. The pollen bound hive has leaned it out and it now looks equal. They also made a whole new frame of bees. The best two hives are running 8 frames in a 2 box hive; the are showing a traditional vertical working pattern with food and larvae, it's neat to see it.  (We usually don't have a WINTER like Idaho or NY, so they don't cluster as hard, and they fly almost daily.) Still not clustered; 71 degrees...... but they are showing the pattern, I suppose because some nights are getting down into the 30's.
Some really attack the pollen patties.  Some seem ambivalent about them; they eat it, but they don't really care. I see zero pollen coming in now, so I guess a new phase of things changing for the next few weeks, rain coming tonight, this will perk things up yet again.

To anyone who is working their first hives, and confused, not sure how to proceed, not sure what they are seeing- keep an eye on the wet nectar and honey on the frames. Keep an eye on the pollen coming in the front door, watch for 5 minutes before you start an inspection. If you are wondering about feeding them, try a little 1:1 and see how they react. These bees get very busy, they call in the others from the field, they are not aggressive, but it seems like a celebration when I feed them given the tough conditions. Given I had a little growth in all the hives, and finally see food stores in the frames, I am feeling better about their being strong enough to make it, and being ready for the bloom that will start in February.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 09:56:07 PM by Dirt Rooster »