Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bees and Wasps are NOT Friends

So last year was my first attempt at bee keeping. I had a beautiful hive with thriving bees, full of honey and larvae and a good queen, but then one day I went out to check on them and they were completely wiped out. It turns out wasps can take out a beehive in about 30 min. I had no idea! I had noticed wasps lingering about the hive, but I thought they were friends. I had no idea that they could be such a threat. They will decimate a hive killing and eating the bees, the larvae, and the honey. I couldn't believe that my hive could be destroyed that quickly. At first I thought maybe they had swarmed, but there was absolutely nothing left behind. When a hive swarms they will leave some larvae, a new queen in the works, and enough worker bees and attendants to take care of the baby queen and hive. But there was absolutely nothing left! I wasn't for sure what happened so I got on a website and read an article called autopsying your hive, that is when I realized it was the wasps. It was too late in the season to start over, but I immediately started setting traps and finding and removing wasps nests. We had several kinds of wasps so I had to buy two different kinds of traps. One of them will catch most kinds of wasps, but it does not work on paper wasps, which seemed to be the predominant kind of wasp in our yard. So I bought the sticky trap for the paper wasps. Their bodies are smaller and can escape the other trap. So far no honey bees have fallen for the sticky trap, if I start to notice any I will take it down, but generally speaking honey bees and wasps are attracted to different kinds of things. So I am hoping for a better beekeeping year this year. Here are just some of the nests we took out. And by we I mean Chad :-) Good Riddance!

So why do wasps eat honey bees? The truth is they feed them to their young who in return secrete a sugar substance which is like crack to the wasps. fascinating...

I also decided to go with 2 hives this year instead of just the 1. The reason being that you can sometimes solve problems between hives. I changed the location too, just in case wasps have a good memory. This year my fabulous sister came with me to pick my bees up. She even carried one of the cages to the car! It was so much more fun with her there. Also my darling Olivia came. She was the one to come with me last year.

It was a cold day, so it was much less eventful than the year previous. Last year I had all kinds of stray bees that came along with my cage. I can't remember for sure, but I think I counted about 30 extra freebees flying around in my car. Because of the cold, there were no freebees.

This year Harrison wanted to help me get all set up.

I tried two different ways of hiving my bees based on different advise. One lady had me using an empty top box to dump the bees into and the other said to just use the bottom box to start out with. It's a little more challenging with the one box, but in the long run its the method I preferred. The hive on the left is last years hive, and the one on the right is the new hive. My bees came early so I was completely unprepared. You'll notice parts of my new hive are not painted. I'm pretty sure I'm going to pay for that, but because of the cold and the bees coming early I didn't feel like I had the time to paint. Oh well, I guess live and learn! Maybe I'll buy an extra bottom and swap it out as soon as I can. 

These goofs had fun just watching. Believe it or not, this was taken after I asked them to scoot back! But the bees are fascinating. I could just watch them for hours, and do sometimes!

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