I went back quickly to the bees this Sunday afternoon, since the weather was fine, and I needed to give them some fondant – it’s too cold now to give them syrup. I’d bought a big bag of fondant at the Spring show, to get ready, and we used some of that to do the re-queening some time ago. I also have two boxes of stuff that has pollen in the fondant, but I’ll be using that in the early spring, when they’re waking up.
I cut some of the fondant off, dropped it into a couple of press-lock topped sandwich bags, and rollered them flat. These I then took with me to the hives.
The original hive seemed happy and healthy, so all I did there was take the feeder tray off, put a bag of fondant on the top of the frames, cut a deep cross corner to corner into it, and then flipped the bag over and left it there. The clear plastic cover went on that, then the roof on that, and I strapped it back together, and put the woodpecker protection cage back on.
The newer hive was more interesting though:
Sorry about the weird warp in this shot – it bent my photo of the fondant bags even worse, which is why there are none here =O( But see those bodies on the floor of the feeder tray? They’re all wasps. There was one alive in there too – well it was alive for a few seconds after I noticed it still. Then it was squished. There’s obviously quite the story here. How did they get into the tray, how are they all dead (but that last one, which was quite poorly) and how come any bees that had died in the fight were gone, but all the wasp bodies were still there? I can only surmise that the wasps had got in, smelt the sugar and preferred the idea to the honey, got up there, and then in the sticky open space had lost the battle. I cleared the tray out and put it to one side, and gave them a bag of fondant too. I hope they can fight off any other intruders, but wasps seem to be dying off now anyway, and the front door reducer is hopefully keeping mice out, so hopefully they’ll be OK.
So I put that hive back together again too, and was left with this:
Yes, the left hand doweling on the newer hive snapped while I was using it to lift the cage – silly me. No sign of any woodpecker activity on either hive, but then the hives without any protection in the apiary look fine too, so all I seem to be achieving is scratches in my paintwork.
That’s it now I think. I may need to check again, and maybe replace the food, but I don’t really want to let the cold in, and they seem fed enough. Between Christmas and New Year we’ll re-visit, feed again, and use the mite leg disolving acid treatment thing on them. More on that when it happens.