Friday, April 22, 2005

What Are The Bees Eating?

I have some nerve even asking the question, because what the bees eat is An Advanced Topic. The choice of food depends on where, when, and at what stage of development the bee colony finds itself.

Bees can go up to 2 miles in any direction from the hive to grab a bite (and bring it back), but after trying to figure where they might be gathering food, so I maybe I could watch, it became clear that in this neighborhood, at this time of year, and with the limited population in the colonies, they hardly had to leave the yard.

The stairs to the roof are actually adrift with pollen right now:

steps with pollen

Nonetheless, today was my best chance to feed some more sugar syrup to the gang because it's going to rain and get cold all weekend, there are fewer neighbors around to get curious in the middle of Friday afternoon, and Colony 2 had gone through all their syrup in less than a week when we opened the hives last time.

It was a less than ideal day for this: it was only 54 degrees F, and there had been rain. Most of the bees were still home. But I went ahead.

On the good side: over-achieving Colony 2 had cleaned their feeder right out again!

On the less good side: Colony 1 had eaten nothing that I could tell.

I still added more syrup, and afterward wondered if that were a Really Bad Idea. Cold and wet are not friends to bees.

Deep dark worry returns.

You know, at some point it must be possible to get to know this beekeeping business well enough not to fear the worst with every move, or suspect that every step taken is a Terrible Mistake.

To perk me (and maybe you) up a bit, the photo area has pictures of several wonderful food sources right on this block. When it was sunnier this week, I tried to hang out in the hammock near the hives and watch where the bees went. They did this funny little spiral climb to a couple of dozen feet above the house, then shot off faster than I could follow. But the general directions were east and south, and that is where these pictures come from.

2 comments:

Ally sayz rm4 rox 2009 said...

Most bees eat pollen, but that's not all, it depends on what kind of be it is to what kind of food it will eat

Phang said...

Ally's right that bees also take nectar and water, and that the honeybees have cousins -- wasps -- that can take their protein in the form of actual meat! But honeybees are completely vegetarian, and their protein source is pollen. One beekeeper told me that they will ingest brood (especially the drone brood that get broken open during a hive inspection) but it is not clear whether they recover any protein from the brrod, or just need to take it in so that they can move it out of the hive.