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Author Topic: starving bees?  (Read 1001 times)
ajneal30
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« on: August 20, 2013, 06:16:49 PM »

I have two hives in an organic garden local to my area. There is plenty of forage; cucumbers, squash, corn, oregano ect. The bees are in the blossoms, but not in the numbers I would expect. The cucumbers for example have tons of blossoms but only maybe 50 bees in them. They have eaten almost all of their stores and started chewing the comb. I don't understand why they would do this. Foragers are coming and going, the hives are very active, but no one is bringing back pollen. We put pollen/protein patties in the hives a few days ago and they have not really touched it. Today we put syrup on in hopes of saving them. Anyone have any ideas why they would not be bringing back pollen? Why would they starve with so much forage available?
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rober
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 07:10:43 PM »

the plants mentioned are supplemental but are not enough to sustain them. what's growing & blooming in your area? any clover or goldenrod ? I'm not familiar enough with the landscape in your neck of the woods to know what commonly grows there. also-how much brood is in the hives? if you lift the back f the hive how heavy does it feel? chewed comb sounds like these hives may have been robbed.
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10framer
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 07:18:17 PM »

i agree, those aren't major producers and it would take acres to even supplement a couple of hives.  i think (i definitely don't KNOW), that in arid or semi-arid areas flows are usually very short and very intense.   
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 07:24:13 PM »

the chewed comb is probably from them uncapping what they had stored.  if they were finding enough out there, they wouldn't be eating what was stored.  do watch to make sure they are not being robbed.  that could also account for the lack of stores, but there are usually other things that go on with robbing like bad attitude, and a lot of bees in the air.

you want to make sure they are not being robbed before you feed, or you'll just invite more of the same and your bees will end up dead.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
JWChesnut
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 08:21:00 PM »

Find a patch of Melilotus (Yellow sweet clover = Melilotus officinalis), it grows along wild along ditches and irrigated fields in Nevada.  Get your bees on that - for August flow.  Melilotus is likely your best immediate target for August Desert honey. White sweet clover (Melilotus albus) can also be found, but the wild patches are typically yellow   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melilotus_officinalis

  Your bees are starving out. Unless you are certain you will have a fall flow, you need to take action now to bring them to health for the Nevada winter.   I would find some  ditch or streamcourse with Melilotus and Rabbit Brush ready to bloom nearby.  Up near the hills, there will be some "Eriogonum nudum" - a wild buckwheat, though the flowering of the buckwheats were very poor this year.  Rabbit Brush honey is not great for humans-- distinctly rubbery in taste, but great to carry your bees through winter.  Melilotus honey is top-notch, clear, light and fragrant.

Cucurbits produces some pollen, but virtually no usable nectar. Veg gardens in the desert west will not support a hive.  Most garden plants have had nectar bred out of them-- as it is a metabolic drag on the plant to produce human food.  Most Cucurbits (squash, pumpkin) are new world plants and are not coevolved to support honey bee polination.  (Cukes are from Nepal, and may have a different make-up).  Yup, they like Oregano, but how much oregano would you need to support a hive....

Rabbit brush ( Chrysothamnus and Ericameria)  will come on soon, and bees will work that with relish.  Look for a stand of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), Fireweed is a prolific nectar source in mid summer along streams and ditches. Chicory  (Cichorium intybus) -- like a blue dandelion, or Stephanomeria , ( a pink dandelion aka poverty weed)  in an abandoned horse pastures, will sustain a hive in the high desert in summer. Find an alfalfa farmer who is letting the last cutting go to seed.  Alfalfa will fatten bees, if the cutting is delayed until the flowers set.  Farmers want bees to set the alfalfa to reseed the pasture-- they have  bee boards for solitary leaf cutter bees, but honeybees can work the crop.

(I'm in Carson Valley for the next 3 weeks).
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 09:17:46 PM by JWChesnut » Logged
sawdstmakr
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 10:04:17 PM »

I was in Las Vegas last month at a friends house. It was really hot, 110 every day and the week before it had been 116 every day. There was very little food available. In that heat the bees are working more on cooling the hive and bringing in water than finding food. We would see bees in his garden in the early morning and late evening but not during the mid day.
 My buddy wanted bees so I called the only local beek I could find and he said that they had African bees. Bee careful with your bees. I did not get him set up with bees because eventually they would probably be taken over with AHB's and I do not recommend that for any new beek.
Jim
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ajneal30
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 11:23:27 PM »

Find a patch of Melilotus (Yellow sweet clover = Melilotus officinalis), it grows along wild along ditches and irrigated fields in Nevada.  Get your bees on that - for August flow.  Melilotus is likely your best immediate target for August Desert honey. White sweet clover (Melilotus albus) can also be found, but the wild patches are typically yellow   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melilotus_officinalis

  Your bees are starving out. Unless you are certain you will have a fall flow, you need to take action now to bring them to health for the Nevada winter.   I would find some  ditch or streamcourse with Melilotus and Rabbit Brush ready to bloom nearby.  Up near the hills, there will be some "Eriogonum nudum" - a wild buckwheat, though the flowering of the buckwheats were very poor this year.  Rabbit Brush honey is not great for humans-- distinctly rubbery in taste, but great to carry your bees through winter.  Melilotus honey is top-notch, clear, light and fragrant.

Cucurbits produces some pollen, but virtually no usable nectar. Veg gardens in the desert west will not support a hive.  Most garden plants have had nectar bred out of them-- as it is a metabolic drag on the plant to produce human food.  Most Cucurbits (squash, pumpkin) are new world plants and are not coevolved to support honey bee polination.  (Cukes are from Nepal, and may have a different make-up).  Yup, they like Oregano, but how much oregano would you need to support a hive....

Rabbit brush ( Chrysothamnus and Ericameria)  will come on soon, and bees will work that with relish.  Look for a stand of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), Fireweed is a prolific nectar source in mid summer along streams and ditches. Chicory  (Cichorium intybus) -- like a blue dandelion, or Stephanomeria , ( a pink dandelion aka poverty weed)  in an abandoned horse pastures, will sustain a hive in the high desert in summer. Find an alfalfa farmer who is letting the last cutting go to seed.  Alfalfa will fatten bees, if the cutting is delayed until the flowers set.  Farmers want bees to set the alfalfa to reseed the pasture-- they have  bee boards for solitary leaf cutter bees, but honeybees can work the crop.

(I'm in Carson Valley for the next 3 weeks).


Irrigated fields? You make me laugh  grin We have almost NO agriculture here. Rabbit brush is in full bloom and wild sweet clover is here and there. The rest of these I will have to look up.

Thanks for all of the info guys, sounds like I need to move the hives out. Sigh, I was hoping this would put some weight back into the hives.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 11:27:01 PM »

there's no reason you can't feed.  you just need to make sure you provide them as much protection from robbing as you can.  small entrance to defend.  feed all hives.  keep an eye on them.  if they are strong, they can defend the hive as long as they don't have to many openings to defend.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
ajneal30
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 11:52:00 PM »

There are only the two hives and neither of them seem to be robbing. I know yellowjackets will kill and eat the bees, but will they also rob the hives? I have seen a few around the hives, but they mostly seem to be doing the pollinating that the bees are not interested in.
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 12:41:35 PM »

ajneal,
I was surveying up a small drainage tributary to the Carson today.  The feral bees are working "Aster eatonii" really strongly.  Aster eatonii  is now known as Synphytotrichum bracteolosus
It is the pale blue to white aster that lines small desert foothill drainages.
See this image.  http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~jcsemple/sy_bracteo.jpg
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T Beek
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 08:00:53 AM »

there's no reason you can't feed.  you just need to make sure you provide them as much protection from robbing as you can.  small entrance to defend.  feed all hives.  keep an eye on them.  if they are strong, they can defend the hive as long as they don't have to many openings to defend.

AGREED; reduce the entrance and feed until they stop taking it.
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