Archives for posts with tag: backyard beekeeping

It’s been a few weeks since I sugared my bees.  After being stung once again while filling their sugar syrup, I’ve been reluctant to open the hive while the weather is still a bit chilly.  I’ve been checking the sticky board regularly and finding a disturbing number of mites on it, so I knew I needed to increase my efforts at mite control.  I spoke with my beekeeper friend about options, and checked out methods local beekeepers have posted online.  I decided on something considered a “soft” chemical treatment called Apiguard that uses thymol, a primary ingredient in thyme oil, as my next-level choice. 

I opened the hive with the intention of placing the Apiguard and a new pollen patty, and discovered bees everywhere: throughout the frames as expected, but also along the sides of the hive body and at the bottom. Even more exciting is that I found a couple drones. These are the only male bees in the colony. I had seen pictures of them, but hadn’t actually seen one so it took me a minute to figure out what I was seeing. At first, I thought my queen had lost her blue mark because the drones are quite a bit larger than the workers. Then I noticed a couple peculiarities: 1) there was more than one of these larger bees and 2) they were unusually chunky looking. Drones! How cool! Unfortunately, Marc was not helping me film this inspection so the video I shot has only a single camera angle and does not have any close-ups of the drones (Inspection 011721). If only Jonah had thumbs, he could help.

Besides these first drones, I also noticed that the frames at the far side of the box that have been empty for months now have beautiful, freshly drawn, creamy white comb in them.  Which means the bees have been busily building again in preparation for spring’s arrival, and now the frames are nearly full with nowhere for them to go.  This would be a wonderful achievement for my mini-swarm-started colony, if I weren’t also finding more mites than I’d like and if we weren’t in a dry, La Nina year. 

Less rain means the blooming season is likely to be shorter, which also means there will be a limited amount of time for honey.  Either I can continue to expand my colony for another year and not worry about honey, or I can put honey supers on early and maybe have a wee harvest this year.  We’ve had one good rain so far this year, with more in the forecast this week.  The lemonadeberry is starting to bloom, and the canyon is full of it so I’m hoping they’ll have a feast in store for them, even if it doesn’t last long.  

The catch with the Apiguard treatment is that I’ve timed this all rather poorly since a full treatment takes three to four weeks and it must occur prior to placing honey supers.  Once complete, the super can be put on right away.  My current plan is to stop feeding the sugar syrup so they’ll eat some of their honey stores instead of the syrup and continue the Apiguard treatment that I started.  I’ll check the hive in two weeks and re-assess.  At that point, I’ll either place the second Apiguard treatment or stop treatment and install the honey super.  It will depend how the space is looking in two weeks.  Hopefully, I have time before they start getting ideas about swarming.  And next year, assuming mites are still an issue requiring treatment, I’ll treat the colony in the fall right after removing the honey supers.  Ah, the joys of learning!

I decided to try a prophylactic mite treatment for my hive after doing the powdered sugar roll a couple weeks ago. You may recall that my test failed due to operator error and it appeared that I did not have any mites. However, among beekeepers in this part of southern California it is known that no mites is highly unlikely, so I was fairly certain that I have mites in my colony; I had simply failed to detect them. I spoke with my beekeeper friend who shared with me some pictures of mites on the bottom boards of her colonies. We even played a little “Where’s Waldo”-esque game of Find the Mite to help me develop a good search image. Equipped with this information, I carefully searched the bottom board a few days later and I found a couple of the little buggers. (Side note: my aging eyes are getting more problematic. I’ve found that even wearing my glasses, the mites are too small for me to be certain of them so now I take a picture of the area where there is something that resembles a mite and then zoom the picture in closer to confirm. Perhaps I’ve found a use after all for Marc’s odd real estate gift magnifying glass he handed me a few weeks ago.)

European honeybees (Apis mellifera) are not co-evolved with the Varroa mite so they have not developed adequate adaptations to this threat, which they have only been dealing with since sometime in the 1960s for the species, and since the 1980s in North America. Varroa mites were originally known in Asia where they parasitize Asian honeybees (Apis cerana), a different, albeit sister, species. I’ve been looking into the array of methods one can use to treat for these mites and the reasons for and against treatment. As a biologist, I tend to agree with some of the treatment-free beekeepers I’ve read. In this philosophy, mite infestations are generally viewed as a genetic issue best handled by re-queening from a treatment-free breeder. A queen bred from stock that has survived without the use of chemical treatments should have genes better adapted to combating and co-existing with the mite. This is why I opted to purchase my queen where I did, since they have queens that have been selected for what is known as VSH, Varroa selective hygiene. Increased mite resistance is also one of the advantages for keeping feral colonies with some Africanized genetics who seem better-adapted to handling Varroa.

A powdered sugar dusting is one non-chemical method that can be used to encourage bees to clean themselves, which results in mite removal. This method does nothing for the mites that are busily reproducing in the capped brood cells, so multiple treatments are needed in quick succession to have any hope at reducing mite numbers. On some sites I’ve read that store-bought powdered sugar, which contains corn starch, is hazardous for bees and it’s recommended to make your own by putting granulated sugar into a blender. Other sites have cited research that cornstarch-laced powdered sugar is not harmful to bees, but other anti-caking agents are. I had powdered sugar on hand, so that’s what I used. After checking the bottom board this morning, I counted five mites. I’ll check the board again the next two days so I can get an average daily mite drop, and I’ll sugar them again in a week. Aside from the mites, the colony appears healthy. They are chugging through their sugar syrup and there were plenty of bees, capped brood, and capped honey visible on the few frames I pulled out.

So I’ve mentioned doing a mite check for a while now and finally did my first one over the Thanksgiving weekend. It was an epic fail that might be better described as a series of what not to do. I had read about the method I had selected; I probably should have looked online for a YouTube demonstration of the technique prior to attempting it myself. Perhaps I will remember that the next time I attempt something. Knowing me, I will not.

Varroa destructor, Varroa mite, is a common parasite of the honeybee. I’m not going to post any pictures because I think they’re pretty icky looking. Wikipedia has a good close-up image though, if you’re curious. This particular mite is a vector of multiple viruses that are passed to infested honeybee colonies. Serious infestations can result in death of the colony unless beekeepers step in with a variety of tools to protect their bees. The mite is native to Asia and so European honeybees, the most common honeybee in North America, have not evolved with this parasite and do not have adequate defenses against it. Beekeepers breed queens from selected stock with genetics that are more resistant to the mite, mainly through increased cleaning behaviors that are more likely to remove the mites. Africanized colonies are also thought to be more resistant to this threat. From what I’ve read, the mite is found throughout the United States. There is a citizen science project, Mite-A-Thon, to track mite levels across North America, but it is dependent on voluntary participation so a high reported mite level could mean that mite levels in the area are higher than other areas, but it could also mean that there is a high level of participation in the area.

There are a few methods to determine the mite level in a colony: alcohol wash, sugar roll, and a sticky board. The sticky board is a passive method that requires a layer of some sticky substance on a board placed under the hive. After three days, one looks at the board and counts the number of mites. This is not the most accurate method to use because it depends on the mites falling off or being cleaned off the bees for them to then land on the sticky board to be counted. The other two methods count the mites actually found on the bees. The alcohol wash is likely the most accurate, but it also kills all the bees used in the sample since they are swirled in alcohol to remove the mites, and then the mites are counted in the alcohol. The sugar roll is a similar method where the bees survive since they are only swirled in powdered sugar and can survive this level of abuse. So that was my preferred choice. Both the alcohol and sugar methods require collection of a sample of approximately 300 bees from different frames in the hive. Ideally the sample is composed primarily of nurse bees from the brood combs as these are the youngest bees and most likely to have mites since the mites attach to baby bees in the brood cells and emerge with the newly hatched bees already attached to them. The video is a great demonstration of how not to collect bees.

Besides my troubles with collecting bees, I also missed a key step in the method. After coating them, I was supposed to let the bees sit for a couple minutes to give them time to heat up in response to the sugar, which then causes the mites to release from the bees. You’ll see in the video my other error.

So after all that, the answer is that I still do not know if I have a mite problem or not. It has been so cold lately that I haven’t felt like disturbing them again so I may wait until spring to try again. Plus, I need to find a finer mesh screen to use that keeps the bees safely inside. My hope is that I won’t have a large mite problem yet since the colony was so small to begin with and I started with a queen known to have more hygienic behavior who will pass that on to some of her offspring. This may be wishful thinking.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my favorite assistant doing what he does best: enjoying the sun. I love this guy more than words can ever begin to express. He’s snoozing next to me now as I type this, hogging the entire chaise lounge and leaving only a small section of the sofa for Marc and I to share.

The title this week is a bit of a misnomer because, honestly, I am struggling to find topics of interest now that cooler weather has led to less frequent hive inspections. I still want to research mites a bit more before I’m ready to post about the problems they cause. I’ve finally purchased the mesh I need to make my shaker jar to test the mite numbers, though I may have missed the best time to test for this and opening the hive when it is chillier is a tricky business.

The bees maintain the core temperature in the hive around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Opening the hive and exposing it in cold weather means they need to expend a lot of extra energy to heat it again, and they tend to get a little cranky about it. That’s understandable. I’d get grumpy too if someone kept opening my front door to the inclement weather just when I’d gotten it nice and toasty inside. Knowing this, I need to time my activities for warmer days and the warmest hours so as to minimize the chances of being stung or causing unnecessary stress to the bees.

In addition to the chilly weather, I have also found myself wanting to spend time planting our backyard. To save some money, we opted to do most of the planting labor ourselves. Plus, there’s an appealing mix of creativity and reverence in digging the holes, carefully placing the plants, then backfilling and watering them myself. Since I dig the holes and fill each twice with water to check the drainage before placing the plant, I have a good idea of the particularities of the soil in that area later if issues arise.

The soil along this line of manzanitas is more clayey the closer one moves toward the house (foreground). Anything more than a half hour to drain a gallon of water is considered a clay soil. The worst of the holes took more than four hours to drain, although those holes are larger than a gallon. I added a small amount of soil amendment to the holes with particularly poor drainage to lighten the clay a bit, but these plants will also tolerate heavy California clay.

A bunch of plants arrived Thursday and I am like a kid in a candy store excited, oohing and ahhing over each one. They are the fulfillment of a vision that started when we moved here over four years ago, and on which we put the first wheels into motion a little more than a year ago in having a landscaping plan designed by Ecology Artisans. Once Blue Diamond Concrete finished the second phase of hardscape in June, I have been eagerly awaiting autumn, which is the best time to establish new plants since the heat of summer is past and the rain is, hopefully, coming soon.

Many-flower mallows in a rock garden to replace a rotting fence and shore up the slope.

The plants will provide blossoms aplenty for the bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators that stop by our little patch of Earth. I like to think the bees are quite interested in and pleased with the goings on in our yard. I’m completely anthropomorphizing here, and likely not even accurate in my observations, but there were random bees consistently buzzing around me while I planted. The most likely explanation, at least to me, is that they are checking for flowers on the new plants or are disturbed by the vibrations I’m causing as I dig soil from near their hive, but I like the idea of their interest in the process.

The plants selected are native to southern California and the variety of species will provide blooms nearly year-round. There are different varieties of sage, lilac, and manzanita. I tweaked the original plan to add a few flat-topped buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and I might add some more, since they are a pollinator magnet. They bloom nearly year-round with beautiful puffballs filled with multiple individual blossoms that start out white or pale pink and fade to a chocolate brown. When I’ve seen them in the wild, they are always covered in bees.

Since local species are accustomed to our arid climate, the plants will require, at most, water only once every couple weeks once established. Native plants usually spend the first year establishing a deep root system so it’s important to provide occasional deep waterings to encourage roots going deep into the soil, which is how they later survive with little surface moisture. I’ll water every week or so, and will check the moisture before doing so. More frequent watering results in a shallow root system that won’t survive the dry, hot summer. Since they’re building root systems, it can take some time before above-ground growth is really noticeable. It will take a bit before everything grows in, and I am excited to see how it all turns out.

So that’s what I’ll be up to for the next several weekends. I’ll post about the bees as something occurs or as I have time to research new questions. However, it may be a little quiet as we move into winter. Don’t worry! Spring will be here in no time, and perhaps this year, there will be honey to harvest, honey made from some of the wonderful blossoms in our own yard.

I read To Kill a Mockingbird in Mr. Severson’s class as a young freshman who had spent most of my life until then devouring books purely for the purpose of diving fully into whatever world had been created for me and enjoying the story, and rarely for the purpose of analyzing the meaning of the story from a literary perspective. Now that I live in a location where I hear mockingbirds singing nearly daily, I think of that book, and that line from it, often. There is a male singing his heart out throughout this video and he’s really the star of the show. Also, please disregard my footwear once again. Beekeepers advise that one should wear boots or something that provides protection at the ankle, as this is an access point and an area that is often attacked by defending bees; exposed wrists are also an easy target. My bees have so far been so gentle and non-defensive that I am quite nonchalant about these things. I’m sure a day is quickly approaching when I will need to be more cautious. We’ll know we have arrived on the day when I’m shrieking about being stung again. I hope I will be able to manage a more zen response, but we’ll see when we get there.

The bees are progressing very well. They have filled out the foundation-less frames, leaving only four frames with no comb and two with partial construction. This time I replaced another frame, trying a piece of the old foundation as a guide to encourage the bees to build across the frame. I don’t know that it was necessary since they have been building straight combs with no cross comb, but I wanted to try the concept.

Me, pointing to the comb guide at the top of the frame and fashioned from foundation.

I don’t think I placed the frames in the best position for an accurate interpretation of the results as a preference for foundation-less versus an increase in the number of workers who have been able to build more comb. I have an idea for another (better?) experiment to try next time when I replace one or two of the last frames. Ultimately, I wanted to convert the brood nest to foundation-less anyway, so the answer isn’t critical.

This was also the first time that I found the queen on a frame other than the two that my friend had gifted me…well, except that one time I found her in the ball of bees in the cross-comb on the cover. There are multiple frames with some honey in them, although still only a small amount of capped honey. They are drinking a little more than a liter of syrup each week and I will continue feeding them until I have four frames mostly filled with honey as that is the general recommendation for over-wintering a colony in San Diego. All in all, everything seems to indicate that the colony is expanding and gaining strength.

I decided to do a quick hive inspection last weekend before I installed the new water features, which by the way are looking great with a couple bees buzzing around and using them. There’s even a pretty new bloom from the water lily. It wasn’t open this morning when I took the video, but it’s pretty all the same.

There seemed to be about the same number of bees, maybe more than before, but still around 2.5 – 3 frames full. It had only been one week since I’d repaired the comb disaster, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of comb construction. I was excited to see that they had used the bits of comb that I’d moved from under the top cover and held onto a frame with rubber bands. In place of the larger odd pieces there were now four beautiful sections of freshly drawn comb hanging from the frame and filled with honey. That was some rapid work on their part!

I removed the rubber bands as they had served their purpose and were no longer needed. The other frame showed no signs of work being done to it, but I had only placed some very tiny bits of salvaged comb on that one and it was farther from the brood nest. I left the rubber bands on that frame, still holding the tiny pieces in place.

I now wondered if the reason the bees had not built more comb was an issue with the bees not liking the old plastic and wax foundation rather than a shortage of bees of the correct age for wax production. They had built the new comb so quickly once I provided the empty frame. So I decided on a wee experiment. Of course! I’m a scientist! I pulled another frame out on which no construction had been done yet and removed the foundation from it. I placed it between two frames with comb to discourage any free-form constructions and to encourage the bees to build in a straight line along the width of the frame.

Frames filled with a plastic-based foundation and then coated in wax. The cell structure encourages the bees to build their comb straight and to make worker-sized cells rather than drone cells.

So here’s how I’m testing the hypothesis that it’s the old foundation delaying comb-building:

  1. If the bees simply don’t like the plastic foundation, I would expect that the two frames sans foundation (one with bits of salvaged comb and the other without) will be built out to some degree by the time I do my next inspection two weeks from today and that no other comb-building will have taken place.
  2. If it’s an issue with the workforce size or nectar dearth, then I may not see any new construction, or only a small amount, but not necessarily on the two foundation-less frames.

The bees have been going through syrup pretty quickly now, so I think they’re well-enough fed. Comment your predictions as to what I’ll discover, and then check back the weekend of October 2nd to find out the results. Or if you have other hypotheses to test, let me know.

I learned about bees and water first when we moved to our house four years ago. I had installed a small bird bath made of some sort of glass or acrylic material and the bees could not climb out after landing. Bees were drowning and I tried a few different tactics to help them before finally using a stone buddha statue from my altar in the bird bath. Since then, there have been no drowned bees. Once I started my bee project, I thought the new bees would use the bird bath as others had done. However, it turns out that bees can be rather finicky about their water source, and, as far as I can tell, mine do not seem to like that bird bath.

Many people are not aware that bees need water, not to drink, but to maintain the temperature and humidity of the hive. Bees maintain the internal temperature of the hive somewhere in the vicinity of 95° F. In the winter, they use the energy burned from eating their honey supply to maintain warmth and keep a stable temperature. In the heat of summer, they use water to create a sort of air conditioner in the hive. They place the droplets of water on the comb and fan it with their wings to evaporate it, cooling the area.

I live within a few miles of the ocean and it is rarely over 90° F here, but last weekend I checked my weather app, which showed it was 104° F. I was shocked! I decided then that it was time to provide some better water sources above and beyond the bird baths. Our neighbour has a pool, and a child allergic to bee stings (thus, the siting of the hive as far from their property line as possible), and I really did not want the bees using their pool as their primary water source. Girl Next Door Honey had provided a short video on her Instagram site showing how simple it was to create a small water garden so I used that as my guide for two new water features.

I liked the wine/whisky barrel idea, but wanted something slightly more decorative for the other container. I chose the pot at a local nursery and used an epoxy from Home Depot to seal the drain. It set in 5 minutes and was ready to be filled in an hour. I placed the barrel next to the oregano patch where they might find the water quickly; the bees might not care that it’s level, but I do.

Once the barrels were filled with water, I placed a few plants in each one. The barrel is larger so it has a beautiful lily pad in a submerged pot, some free-floating water hyacinth, and another free-floating plant. The flower pot just has a few of the two types of free-floating plants. I had also purchased some mosquito fish and a product to dechlorinate the tap water so it would be safe for them. I left the bag of fish floating in the water for a few minutes for the temperatures to equalize and then put a few into each barrel. Now that I know how easy that was, I might create a few more of these after we finish planting the rest of the backyard this Fall. Hopefully, the bees will like my creations and will be using them in the near future.

I mentioned last week a wee problem in the hive that needed to be rectified, and that problem was burr comb, which is one of a few names for comb built in places you wish it weren’t. As I discovered when I looked in the hive today, I had placed the inner cover on upside down and that gave the bees an extra gap between the cover and the frames. Combined with the spacer I’d been using, they had about a 1 inch gap.

Much like nature abhors a vacuum, bees do not like unfilled space. The basis of the Langstroth hive (the type of hive I’m using) is beespace. Langstroth found that bees would fill with comb any space larger than 3/8 inch; smaller than that, and they’d fill the gap with propolis. The hanging frames in a Langstroth hive are sized specifically to be sandwhiched together and allow enough width for comb on each side and bees to move freely, while not exceeding that 3/8 inch limit. With a 1 inch gap or larger, I had a huge violation of beespace. Last week they had only managed to make a few nice pieces of comb that were filled with honey. I should have fixed the problem immediately, but didn’t know exactly how to accomplish it quickly, so I put it all back together and decided to wait a week. That was not the best decision.

Couple my beespace violation with the bees’ preference for building willy-nilly free-form versus within the forced structure of foundation, and I had a mess after leaving it for another week. Who could really blame them? Free-flowing coloring outside of any lines is far more fun than coloring within them!

This shows only the bottom pieces of comb, not the larger pieces that adhered to the top cover. By the time I realized how much was attached to the top, the hive had been open for far longer than I’d wanted and I’d spotted the queen in the mess, so I didn’t snap any photos until the end and just got the job finished.

In the intervening week, the bees had constructed multiple small combs across the top where the syrup feeder rests. There was also a ball of bees on the underside of the inner cover and, as I feared when I saw the tight grouping of a lot of bees there, I found the queen amongst them. Ack! Not good! But I had made a plan, and I thought it would still work: take two empty frames without the foundation that the bees use as a template for building comb, add rubber bands to hold the odd bits of comb, and insert them into the hive on opposite sides of the brood nest. I pulled out two frames to make room for these, one of which had old comb on it and I thought might be the source of the wax moths.

I gently scraped each piece of comb from the base, carefully working around any bees gorging on honey, and then affixed the comb on the frame between the rubber bands. I had done this for all the small bits before I realized how large the other bits on the underside of the cover were and before I discovered the queen in the ball of bees. My time would have been better spent focused only on the larger pieces. For the queen, I carefully scraped off the piece she was on when she was near the top of it so that I wouldn’t inadvertently injure her. I placed it as the top of the brood nest frames and encouraged everyone with her back inside. Once she’d safely moved below, I added that piece of comb to my construction.

I’m not quite sure if this will work. When I’ve seen this done in videos or photos by experienced beekeepers it is usually a single, larger piece of comb placed on each frame. I hope I’m successful in rescuing at least some of their hard work and resources. Either way, I removed the spacer and flipped the inner cover the right way around so I shouldn’t have this specific issue again. Fingers crossed.

I think I have mentioned a couple times the idea of “checking the bottom board.” There are two types of bottoms for a hive: a solid wood bottom or a screened bottom; there may be more, but these are the two of which I know. The names tell you quite a bit about their appearance. I am currently using a screened bottom, which consists of a wire mesh screen above a thick plastic base. The plastic slides in and out, allowing for complete removal to increase ventilation in very hot environments such as inland San Diego county, or for periodic review of the hive. A quick glance at the goodies accumulated on the plastic is a great way to “see” what is happening inside the hive without annoying the bees. It’s how I have discovered ants were inside even when they could not be seen entering the hive or how I’ve verified that baby bees were emerging from their capped cells. It can also be used to look for mites that the bees have removed. I check it at least once a week, sometimes more frequently if I’m wanting to do something “beekeeper-ish” but don’t want to bother the bees again.

A view of most of the bottom board. Pollen patty bits are in the two rows at the top left, which is approximately where the pollen patty sits on top of the hive frames.

Usually, the board holds a lot of pollen patty remnants and bits of paper from the patty, a few cell cappings, and some escaped pollen. Those were all present this week, including pollen in a new shade of pinkish-orange that I had not seen before. They may have found a new pollen source as we head into the Fall and different species begin to bloom.

Pollen remnants (the larger oblong bits) in a variety of hues from pale yellows to an unusual (to me) pinkish-orange in the bottom left corner.

There were also a couple new things that I was not happy to see: two adult wax moths and a wax moth larva. The fact that these were at the bottom may indicate that the bees are able to successfully defend against them, but their presence is worrisome and I’ll need to check more thoroughly for signs when I am next in the hive. I didn’t see any of the obvious signs of their presence during yesterday’s inspection, so I’m hopeful.

An adult wax moth is the elongated, gray shape in the middle of the board.

The wax moths burrow through and eat the wax (shocking given their name, I know!) and the larvae eat the bee larvae so they are certainly not something I need in there. I have a couple frames that have some old comb on them and this may be how they were introduced. It’s not really a problem I expected yet since there is so little comb in the hive. I discovered another problem during my inspection yesterday that needs to be rectified soon (burr comb) and my solution includes removing those old frames so I hope I will have caught the problem before it gets too large.

Wax moth larva at the middle top of the board. Yuck!

I did not see any mites on the board, so that’s good news! But I still need to start thinking about a more rigorous method to check the hive for them. I’m leaning towards a sugar roll, which doesn’t kill the bees like the alcohol method does, and just gives them a dowsing in powdered sugar. More about that and the burr comb in the future. Thank you for following along and learning more about honeybees with me!

This is our second week away from our home, and away from the bees and myriad other critters in our yard and I find that I miss them deeply. It’s just not the same only seeing them here and there when I have the time to go over. What I attempted as a vegetable garden this spring is also showing distress signs from the lack of attention and water. I stopped by yesterday late morning and it was already too hot to water so I knew I needed to go back this morning. Despite the lack of attention the towhees are still hopping around and chirping, the Allen’s hummingbird buzzed me perhaps to say “good morning, where have you been?”, I heard quail below the wall in the lemonade berry so I threw out a couple handfuls of seed for them to munch on (and hopefully not too much for the squirrels). I think the orioles have moved on for the year as their syrup feeder was still fairly full. Happiest of all sightings were two juvenile fence lizards, each no longer tail-included than my pinky. There were butterflies galore passing through: whites, sulphurs, blues, Monarchs, and a fritillary. Besides my honeybees, I saw a carpenter bee and some rather tiny green bees that I think were metallic green bees in the Agapostemon genus.

A metallic green bee harvesting from the oregano.
Blue butterfly on chocolate mint

The bees have gone through about 32 ounces of syrup in the past week so I am now curious to see what the results are within the hive. Whenever I peak under the top cover, they are busily working at the container. I’ll need to replenish the syrup next weekend.

The ladies enjoying some sugar syrup.

The ants had finally found a way through the Tanglefoot barrier and there were quite a few of them on the bottom board. After cleaning the board of all the ants, I applied a perimeter of diatomaceous earth around each of the legs of the hive stand. I could have applied more Tanglefoot, but this seemed a bit quicker and will possibly last a bit longer.

The hive’s new diatomaceous earth “moats” to help with ant control.

Dust and debris gets kicked into the Tanglefoot, which makes it less effective since the ants are then able to find a path across it. When I checked the board again today, I couldn’t find any ants on it so I think my repairs were effective. See you next week when we peak inside the hive again!

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