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The Beehive: Feeding the hives to tide them through the rainy period

BY brett kent


Welcome back to the Beehive. If you folks remember the last column I wrote, I said all we need is some rain, some dandelions and some luck. Well, I have to say, we sure got some rain, we have lots of dandelions, and so far, the luck is on our side.

About 10 days ago, I went through all the hives to make sure the new queens were released. I will explain what I mean.

Before we add a new queen to a hive, we leave it queenless for 24 hours. The bees in the hive soon realize that the hive is in trouble, because a hive cannot survive without a queen.

The hive is then more likely to accept a new queen. Then we place a new queen in the hive, noting that she is in a little cage, all by herself. The bees in the hive will swarm the little queen cage, and start fanning, because they are very excited, realizing that the hive will now survive.

Now to release the queen from the little cage, the bees have to eat through a little sugar plug, which covers a little hole on the queen cage. It takes the worker bees about two days to eat through the plug. This is the right amount of time for the worker bees and the queen to get acquainted with each other. Once the plug is gone, the queen enters the hive. It takes her about a week to start laying eggs again and the hive is now on track.

So like I said, our queens are out and the hives were are doing well. Then the rain started. It rained and rained some more. Who would have thought that we would get so much rain? It seemed as the rain would quit for a little while, then it would start again. Now, like I said, we need the rain to make the flowers that the bees like, but constant rain actually washes the nectar out of the flowers.

What the bees needed was a few nice days in a row. But what happened was, the bees were unable to get out, so they started eating their honey stores. They ate all the honey stores.

When I went through the hives just yesterday, I became very concerned. If the honey stores get too low, the queen will quit laying eggs. If the queen quits laying eggs, the hive starts going backwards.

We as beekeepers need to make sure the queen is happy. Because, if the queen is happy, the world is a better place. Brenda reminds me of that daily. So, I have just gone back through all the hives and fed them. This should be enough to get them through this rainy period. Now, with a little sun and warmer weather, we should see the honey flow start. I will keep you up to date.

Lastly, I wanted to say, that the Park Rapids Farmers’ Market will move this year. The new location will be in The Ace Hardware parking lot. The first day will be this Saturday, May 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come say hi as Brenda and I will be there. As always, thanks for your interest. Take care.