Oops, wrong feed for the bees

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Posted by Surreybeekeeper | Posted in Beekeeping, Beekeeping Equipment, Bees, Feeding bees | Posted on 02-06-2010

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So, the bees are now safely housed in their new location. I popped up yesterday morning to check they were okay and all seemed good. They were a few just showing their heads outside the hive wondering where they were.

I noticed that some of them actually plucked up the courage to take a little flight but it seemed that they would fly about a metre away and would then get a little bit nervous and fly right back again. I put it as the human equivalent of watching your little ones learning how to walk. They stand up, hold on to the sofa or an equivalent, take a few tentative steps holding on, let go for a step and then immediately grab for the sofa once more.

I understand now that these are called orientation flights and they are just getting used to their new location and gradually these flights will get further and further away from the hive until they are satisfied they know exactly where they are going. Apparently they use markers in the landscape to guide them to and from the hive; amazing.

Anyway, I had a minor heart attack last night. I didn’t get to sleep until about one in the morning as I was writing an update to the day I picked up my first swarm (click here if you want to see the article and the video of my experience) and just before I got into bed (with wifey snoring away quite happily on the other side!) I checked my blackberry. There waiting for me was an e-mail from a friend of mine (a mentor I would safely say) from the Beekeepers association. I opened it and my heart sank. It simply read the following:

“Any white sugar is fine, brown sugar gives them dysentry”

Oh my god, what have I done I thought. This was in reference to the sugar used to feed the bees as they get settled in their new home. What I think was actually worse was the fact that I had actually given them light brown muscavado sugar and not actually brown. Now I had done this as I didn’t have anything else in the house but this meant that at some ungodly hour of the morning I was beginning to fret about whether light brown sugar would be worse than dark brown sugar. I can quite happily tell you I have never before sat down and considered this argument before but I can tell you that the difference between these two sugars kept me from sleeping particularly well.  

I woke up and came to conclusion that Mentor Adam would need to be consulted on this and so I left the feeder on (thinking that Light Brown didn’t look dark brown and so it must be alright) and e-mailed Adam for confirmation. Just as Jo and I got in the car to go to a barbecue he e-mailed back and bascially stated that no light brown was just as bad.

So, on the way to the barbie I had to get Jo to jump out and get some more sugar for me. In she went to Sainsburys and came out with two rather heavy looking bags. I felt a lot better knowing that I could now get it all sorted.

Sadly, it is now pitch black as we arrived home a lot later than we thought. I am sat here thinking that these poor bees have not got the right feed but have planned to wake up nice and early and sort it all out. Here’s hoping that they do all right tonight and I haven’t done any lasting damage…

Comments (10)

They will butt you before they sting you, as you’ve learned. Once you have one in your hair, if you hear that high-pitched frantic buzzing, she is definitely going to sting! I often walk up to the side of our hives, unsuited, and so far all has been well. Only if I’m going to tear into the hive do I bother suiting up.

Our bees up in Maine are so gentle you can practically pat them. Seriously, they’re very calm, the only time I’ve suited up with them is when we’re robbing the honey. They get a bit testy then, but only a bit! The bees up there are New World Carniolans, I guess that’s a calmer breed than the Italians we have down here at our fulltime home.

Hey Ann, not sure I am up to patting them yet! I am still waiting to pick one up for the first time! How fantastic a reader from Maine. I’d love to go there. James

Similar thing happened to me yesterday. Picture me opening my TB hive very quickly ( it was warmish but windy and autumn here so not that warm) to show off to my workshop people, chatting away then zap, right under my right eye !! Heres me just finished saying how important it is to cover up when working your hive – what a twit I felt. This morning my eye has swollen and I look like nothing on earth ! Lesson ? don`t be a smart arse ..

I did get chased by one neurotic bee one day, right inside the house ! She wouldn`t leave me alone so I had to put her out of her misery !

Hey Marcia, how funny! I bet you felt silly. I think I had the neurotic bee as well then. J

Same thing happened to me – I always go to look at my bees during the day. Got one in my hair. Nice sting – so I won’t do that again. Lesson learned

Not surprised Nicki, not nice when it happens I imagine. I have a feeling other silly stings have been given though – I once got one under my watch strap – not nice I can tell you. J

Happened to me as well. At first, I thought it must be a yellow jacket but it was in fact a honey bee and I was about 10 feet from the hive. As best I can guess, perhaps she was reacting to my cologne.

10ft….wow, they must have been a little tetchy then…..I am usually about 3ft when looking at them….I had better be a little bit more careful I think!

Hmm – I had a bee in the ear (noisy but not stung) and one up my shorts when just standing about 3m from the hive both times. I, too, am a newbee so learning all the time with my 1st swarm. Ceratainly wouldn’t touch the hive in any way without a suit as one sting can lead to many!!!!

Up the shorts!! Now that could have been interesting – similar to the dawning realisation I had recently when I looked down at a bee encroaching on my button fly jeans……not a nice feeling I can tell you!

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