Friday, November 10, 2006

Feeder Leak, Ugh

stream of sugar from leaking feederYesterday was another feeding day, and Twain was the lucky colony... well, sort of. Remember how there seems to be a lot of bees robbing bees this year? Maybe I know why.

This morning, there was a stream of sugar water down the side of the Twain hive, along the roof, puddling at the side of the Wilde girls. Ugh. I knew something was wrong even before I got up there because I could see that wacky, hyper-caffeinated-but- clueless flight of robbers through the skylight.

Robbing bees are strangely insistent but dopey. It's as if their world gets unhinged: "Wait, you mean I don't actually have to WORK for food, that it just sort of shows up in great sticky pools that could form just ANYWHERE?" They literally act like over-amped American shoppers at a Walmart Christmas sale: trying to grab everything within a half mile all at once, with a halfway intention of taking care of their family, and an overstimulated inability to sort through the sudden onslaught of have-able desire-ables.

stream of sugar on roofRobbing bees make a different noise than your usual buzzing, and they tend to land all over you, checking to see if perhaps YOU might be a sticky pool of undeserved sugar forming directly in front of them. It's hard to move around without crushing bees, and besides the sadness of that, crushed bee smell is a motivator to get upset: just what you don't want in the middle of a cloud of over-stimulated felon bees.

bee flying head onOn the up side, while I was wading around the clingy bees, trying to develop a plan, I got a picture of this bee flying at me straight on. I was not trying for her picture: the camera tends to choose its own focal point, and she apparently was it. It's not great, but you can see her antenna on the left if you squint real hard.

I thought about just letting the bees clean it up, even though there was fighting going on. You see, almost anything I might do would be hard on the bees, too. But today is going to be very very warm, and the potential for a ten thousand bee melee (with yellowjacket accompaniment) was just too strong. So I turned the hose on mist, and tried to gently wash off the sugar, even though bees were still in it. Maybe that warm sun on its way will dry them off quickly and well.

So I hosed 'em down. All those robbers flew up in the air, and began to settle in a loose cloud on surfaces all over my roof and the neighbors'. By the time I started downstairs again they were back at their attempted theft: they won't give up for hours once they locate a source. I may go back up from time to time and sprinkle them again, if it seems to help control the mayhem.

From now on, it's a different feeder system for the rooftop bees.

1 comment:

Susi said...

You are such a good beekeeper. Thanks for the visit.