Tuesday, May 24, 2011


One would think they are able to find their own food from plant pollen in their surroundings but sometimes there is no or not enough food or there are other special considerations such as you just hived a packaged bee delivery and of course in winter, when bees need to be fed; typically with sugarwater.

I am refilling the jar with
sugarwater of our entrance feeder.
If you - like me - just hived your packaged bees, you are dealing with super young bees. Chances are that they have not had much flying experience yet and that they are still practising to fly. So, in the first few days, you will see them flying around, in what appears to be short, erratic flights. However, they are learning, both to fly and their new whereabouts. They need to also memorize where the hive, their new home, is.

So, these young inexperienced bees out of a sudden have the complete burden of building a hive and making sure noone (especially not the precious queen bee) is starving.

After about a week or so it is considered a good sign to see these young bees returning from their flights with some pollen. Gradually then, you can start reducing the supplemental feeding.

However, ensure there is always a source of water for them. I use an old terracotta saucer which I placed a couple of meters away from the hive and keep refilling.

Back to the feeding the bees: There is some controversy about why they should be fed sugarwater, which I will not go into.

Here is how I prepare the sugarwater for our bees:
In a large pot I put water (or camomilletea) and sugar; I use 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. It is recommended to use cane or beet sugar. No raw sugar because the molasses cannot be digested by our ladies.

I put the pot on the stove and heat the water at a low or medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar completely in the water. Be sure not to caramelise the sugar; that can be fatal to your colony.

In winter, you may want to add 1 1/2 tbs. of apple cider vinegar for each gallon of this concoction to prevent it from freezing.

Then I let it cool off completely before I give it to my girlies.

Rudolf Steiner, father of bio-dynamic gardening recommends to use camomille tea instead of water. The reason for this is that camomille do not pollen which is the reason why these flowers are so potent in teas.

If you choose to use camomille tea, it is advisable to use organic tea; preferably harvested from your own garden. Since we are not quite there yet (hopefully next season), my bees get regular water for now.
We use an entrance feeder, because I do not want to disturb the colony by opening the hive body everytime I am refilling the jar.

BTW: They are quite hungry. I am feeding a jar every day; sometimes two.

Today I refilled the jar of sugarwater in the entrance feeder for the first time without complete beekeeper regalia.... No stinging yet!

It is kinda interesting walking around in the backyard, trying to see whether 'our' bees are at work. I see so many bees, but most likely not ours yet. I can still tell ours apart because young bees are much darker than older ones. The sun has 'bleeched' out the older ones who appear lighter in color.

While we are still a tad concerned about our neighbor's reactions to the bees, we are also quite smitten with them and have been spending hours just observing them. Aurelia loooves to watch them from behind a window in the house.

I am truely in awe about how the reproductively incomplete female working bees work together for the greater good, selflessly sacrificing their own lives to serve others, through feeding the lazy male drones (whose only purpose in life is to mate with the queen) and the only complete female with reproductive abilities, the queen. By doing so, these ladies ensure not only the survival of their own species but also the survival of numerous plants (through fertilisation), animals and not to forget humanity (no bees, no crop production), who all depend on these little wonderful creatures.

Especially after the disaster in MO, with vast amounts of crops destroyed and food prices - once again - on the rise, we should all take a moment and rethink the way we live today, with food being produced in one area of the continent that is aimed to last for 300+ million people. We cannot fathom yet what the future holds for these farmers and their acreage because of all the toxins being released into the soil; what does it mean for our food supply if the soil in these areas will be contaminated for years to come?

If  more people started tearing out their useless watersucking lawns and replaced them with an edible landscape, the scale of these disasters would be more manageable and we would not be implementing so much monoculture anymore.

Maybe, just maybe Gaia is telling us something?! Are you listening?

Die Biene, Haltung und Pflege

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis


  1. So whaddha bout this theory that the drop in bee pop. is due to cell phone waves and bees not being able to get back to the hive because of disorientation, getting lost and then death?

  2. Not sure what caused the decline in colonies but the loss of honeybees is definetely not a good thing: No pollination = no crops = no food.

    Which is why we started keeping them. Bees are definetely inspiring. Everyday I learn something new about bees, plants, our animals, insects or nature in general. I never cease to be amazed by nature's perfection.

    Glad you like my white jumpsuit. It is pretty warm, though, and the hat doesnt fit too well. Which is why I believe that if I ever get stung it might be on my hat. . .