wordwitch: Princess Cimorene carries a dragon-sized piece of china. (Cimorene)
[personal profile] wordwitch
So I went upstairs to check on the barn bees last week. it had been several days, and it had been cold and it had been warm, and I wanted to see how they were doing. I didn't hear any sound when I went upstairs, which was a trifle worrying. but I did see a few bees in the air. Not the number I should have seen.

I settled the netting around my shoulders, lit the smoker, and puffed a little smoke around. I pulled on my gloves, and carefully lifted the lid so as not to distress any of the ladies.

THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF APIS-DAMNED ANTS ALL OVER THE SYRUP CONTAINER AND RUNNING AROUND CARRYING EGGY THINGIES!!!! The poor bees were cowering in the couple of frames that they had been in. I beat at the ants with my hive tool, and brushed them off the sides of the hivebox with my feather, and hauled that thing straightaway outside to dump and rinse (carefully replacing the lid, of course. No need to further harrow the ladies).

I swear I poured the entire contents of the rain barrel through the syrup container, and I can swear to that, because I just inserted the hose, opened the spigot, and let 'er rip. Then I went in and did some research.

Evidently, them ants can kill hives, and do. They love hives, because hey! Free food! and I had drawn them by leaving in the syrup container. So removing it had been the right first step.

According to nearly every entry on this issue that I found, the proper solution to the problem is ground cinnamon. Bees are fine with it; ants hate it. I sent my minions (i.e., the BMIL* and the daughter) out for cheap cinnamon, and on Saturday I ventured back up.

The barn was humming, which was a vast improvement. The gals were in the air, and going in and out of the hive. When I opened it, The ladies were running around building stuff. They had actually fastened two of the frames together, which: not so good, but shows work. There were still a few ants up there. Grrr.

I scattered cinnamon all over the floor around the hive, then scattered it all over the edges and down inside. The ladies didn't care at all, which was good.

When I went up today, the ladies were all huddled together, and nobody was out, but that's understandable: it was chilly. Not supposed to get above 67 today, either. I took them up a "disposable" pie pan with water and straw in it, because if it is too cold to go out, it is probable too cold to go for water.

I have to go out and check on the ranch bees pretty quickly now. I meant to do it this morning, but Things got in the way. Now I'm hoping - maybe tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday. It is a solid hour out and another one back, and I have a 10am appointment.

Next chore: putting frames into the last Langstroff. The official one. I received my permit in the mail this weekend, and I hope to receive my last set of bees soon. I wore myself through mowing this morning, and I'm not even done yet, but I'll work on the frames first.

So there.


*BMIL: Beloved Mother In Law. I have the best MIL in the entire world.
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September 2013

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