Academically - (Active) Beekeeping Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University and (retired) The Ohio State University
Industry Involvement - The Alabama Beekeepers' Association
Interests - Honey bee biology, behavior, and management
One Tew Bee, LLC
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If you are primarily a gardener who keeps some bees, could I ask you opinion?
From a gardener’s perspective, does present-day beekeeping equipment meet your needs? Is it the right size, the right color, they right style? Can too many bees be too much of a good thing? I’ve spoken to many gardening groups and have been told that the common beehive is not always well-suited for the garden environment. If you agree, what changes do you suggest?
From GM: My father made his money with chicken eggs and as such he had automatic poultry waterers. Reading your article it seems to me they would be good for bee waterers as they basically need no attention to the keep water available to the bees. His were about a 6′ trough with a float controlled inlet from a pressure (home well) water source. They come in different sizes. Here is one source http://www.qcsupply.com/275005-biddie-drinker-with-hose.html
The only problem I can see is getting the right size for the needs of the hives. I would put sand up to the level of the water. Sand has more pore space thus more water surface than gravel,( check with the civil engineering department at the college), and no chance for drowning. These waterers would have the same need to be raised above predator available level and covered with 1/2″ hardware cloth to keep out the birds.
For several months, I have been quiet while spending much of my time learning simple video production procedures. I will use this technology to supplement webinars and other such remote seminar productions. Otherwise, my bees are good (not great) and the season is moving along without surprises.
Today, as I prepared to get the lawn mower out, I noticed a significant number of water foragers around a rain puddle in front of my tractor barn. I changed my plans and posted the water foraging activity at: Honey Bee Water Foragers. It was bee biology in motion. I’ll mow later.
NWOBA, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to your group last evening. The room was full of mostly new beekeepers with a few old folks mixed in for good measure. I wish I had more good answers for the group and I hope our bees have the best season ever. (It’s just the normal beekeeper dream.)
Most of us who have been enjoying the truly strange early spring knew that a late freeze risk was possible. The hard freeze (24 degrees in NE Ohio) predicted for tonight will stress or even kill lightly-stored bee colonies. They have brooded up and will use their remaining stores to produce metabolic heat needed to incubate the brood. There is not much the beekeeper can do at this point. At least the cold snap is suppose to only last a single night. We all hoped this return to winter would not happen. Alas…
VSBA, thanks for a wonderful, wonderful event at your Spring, 2012 meeting in Richmond, VA. (For those who don’t know, just a few days before the event, the meeting site had to be completely changed.) Everything worked well on essentially no notice. Great meeting site, great crowd, and good spirits. What an outstanding bunch of beekeepers!
To date, I am in the minority. For most of you, Maple is an obvious, viable source of early spring pollen. I certainly don’t doubt your observations. On my 4 medium-sized Maples, with binoculars, for about 5 observations on 4 different days, I could see may be 10-15 bees per observation. No clouds of bees. No hum of bees. Just the occasional forager. Certainly, these casual observations are not science. There are far too many variables not considered. In Ohio, beekeepers have the same issue with soybeans. Rarely, rarely a surplus honey crop from soybean – yet in other states, beekeepers routinely get major crops. I will be watching my maples again next year.
Maple blooms portend the arrival of spring for honeybees, yet I rarely (never) see a forager on maple blooms. Are maples getting credit for the pollen efforts of other early blooming plants or do I need stronger glasses?