After checking my hives on Monday I could not stop thinking about the Queen Elena hive. It is my newest and smallest colony, named after our Russian friend Elena, as the queen in residence is a Russian queen. When I had looked inside earlier in the week I’d perceived something to be amiss but could not put my finger on it. There were plenty of bees, busy doing what bees do but I had a feeling……On that day I did not see Queen Elena, but that is not unusual as queen bees are shy and aren’t always visible upon a hive inspection. Below is a photo of her royal highness – Queen Elena, can you find her?
After harvesting honey I had taken most of the extracted frames and placed them inside this hive to give them the leftovers. They seemed excited and immediately went to work cleaning out the cells of any remaining honey and or wax they might need. When I looked in on them Monday, they were carrying out this task beautifully, building out the foundations with wax and preparing them for brood or honey storage. Still something seemed wrong. I had 5 remaining hives to inspect; and if you haven’t heard it’s down right hot outside in Texas; I quickly moved on to the other hives, all looked fine, but I couldn’t stop contemplating what was going on in hive #6.
This morning I couldn’t stand it any longer so I suited up and went out for a second assessment. I didn’t even smoke them today, who needs a fire and smoke when the temps are upwards of 100*? They are a calm bunch and as I said earlier, my smallest colony. I opened the top and began to remove frames. The builder bees were busy building out foundations, worker bees cleaning the place up, the climate control crew was busy circulating air in and out to regulate the temps inside the hive, Queen Elena was on display, and some brood was visible. After seeing all of this I realized the one thing missing was the amount or lack of food for my girls! Oh!!! the thought of them starving to death in the middle of summer was more than I could bear.
Mr. F says, “beekeeping is nothing more than problem solving”. This is a problem that must be solved immediately. I quickly closed up the hive and returned to the air-conditioned indoors to look up the recipe for “bee food”. I made a run to the grocery for a 10# bag of sugar and began the process. It’s simple: water boiled, sugar added, remove from heat and stir until dissolved, allow to cool before feeding to bees. Thank heavens I thought, I can handle this and I began to feel competent and happy that I solved the puzzle.
The drought conditions we are experiencing are making it difficult on bees. There is not as much food as they need, so it is up to the beekeeper to help them along. As of now, the other hives are all bigger and have more honey and pollen stored for their food supply but these girls needed help and needed it quick.
I am happy to say, “mission accomplished!”. I made a giant batch of sugar syrup, filled a jar and got them all set up. Tomorrow I will inspect again to see if they’ve taken the syrup and at what rate. Fingers crossed…..I am hoping that my hunch was the right one and that with the extra food I’m giving they will continue to survive and flourish. Stay tuned for the saga of Queen Elena and her hive.
Today I posted a new “Road Food” photo that will make your mouth water. Check it out under Road Food-Texas-Dallas.