Who’s living in my apiary?

One of the best things about beekeeping is that it forces me outside. Especially in winter, when I might otherwise stay indoors, I’m compelled to monitor my hives.

Yesterday, after a brief hive check, my husband and I were wandering in the rain looking for a place to mount the native bee housing we are building. Suddenly he pointed, “Have you seen that?”

I was shocked. Near the creek a tree was down, felled by beavers. When did it happen? I stroll past there nearly every day but never noticed demolition in progress.

The trunk is about a foot across at the base. The beavers severed the tree about ten inches from the ground, shaving it apart in large chunks that now ring the stump. The tree snagged on some young alders as it fell, so it never hit the ground. A handful of splinters still connects the two major parts.

What amazes me is how long the tree stood, based on how much is left. The beavers worked all around the perimeter, leaving only the very middle intact. It was a large tree to be left on such a small pedestal, but the beavers obviously knew how far they could go and when to skedaddle: no pressed beaver parts littered the scene.

You can see thousands of tooth tracks in the wood and just imagine the diligence this kind of sculpture requires. And I thought bees were persistent . . .

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Beaver-tree-storyboard

Comments

David R
Reply

On the farm and in the surrounding woods we have a number of wild turkey which we enjoy watching and we even plant food plots where they can feed undisturbed. It is uncommon to ride around the pastures and not see them working the fields. This time of year they look for fallen nuts that were missed in earlier months, grubs and worms, and a number of other things as they have a wide variety of forage upon which they will feast.

This past Sunday the temps were in the upper 60’s so I decided to visit the hives and watch the bees for a while. As I approached the apiary a rafter of wild turkeys were moving in and out among the hives. I stopped and watched for a while as I wondered if the turkeys would be looking to feed on the bees. Much to my relief I did not see any aggressive moves towards the openings nor any quick movements into the air. When I returned to the house I did some research as to problems with turkeys being a predator of bees and have not found any issues. At this point I do not add turkeys to the list with skunks or bears but at the risk of sounding foolish I will breathe easier by asking you for your opinion?

David R

Rusty
Reply

David,

Wild turkeys are such fun to watch. We had a bunch here a few years back but none recently. I would think they are not a serious predator of honey bees. Like many birds, I think turkeys will eat a few now and then, but I don’t think they will make a steady diet of them. If it were me, I wouldn’t worry about them.

Larry
Reply

Another example of God’s engineers.

gregg
Reply

Hi Rusty
Gregg in Sequim here.
I have a couple of very robust hives that are extremely active.
My question, is it too early to add a western to give them more room?
The main thing I am concerned about is NOT encouraging the queen to lay in this newly found territory.
And I might add that I don’t want to use an excluder.

THANKS in advance for your reply.
Gregg

Rusty
Reply

Hi Gregg,

Tough question. You don’t say whether this western is drawn or not. Also, you don’t say whether it’s intended for brood or honey, but I assume honey since you don’t want the queen in there.

I usually don’t give supers until I start seeing new white wax. Before that, the bees are probably bringing in only pollen and storing it near the brood nest. Once the first nectar flow begins, the bees will start building with new wax. I often see it on the top bars, a little here and a little there, and bright white.

However, there is no harm in giving them a super earlier if that’s what you want to do. If it’s not drawn out, the bees won’t start on it until the nectar flow. If it is drawn out, they will probably examine it and begin cleaning it up. If your brood nest is constricted on the sides, the queen may decide to lay there. It would be hard to keep her out.

I would recommend opening up the brood nest, except it is still too cold for that.

gregg
Reply

Thanks for the prompt reply!

Yes the frames are drawn out on the proposed addition and I don’t want to end up with brood in my honey super. In less they might do some rearranging once the flow begins.

Yes it is too cold to really see what going on in there. They just seem so packed in to their 2 deeps. I want to give them room. Maybe it’s just me projecting… So many variables!

Thanks for all you do,

Gregg

Rusty
Reply

Gregg,

These are good problems to have.

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