Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
This year we seem to have a lot more bumblebees than honeybees in the garden. I have even observed bumblebees bullying honeybees from a flower. I decided to investigate further about them:
*They remove nectar using their long tongue called a glossa and store it in their crop or they will bite directly into the corolla called nectar robbing.
*Some species will leave a scent to mark that the flower has been visited – I wonder if honeybees do the same and if they can also can detect the scent left by the bumblebee.
*Once they have collected the nectar, they return to the nest and deposit it into brood cells made of wax but do not process it as honeybees so it is diluted and watery. It can only be stored for a few days unlike honey which can last indefinitely.
From this amazing site(www.bumblebee.org), here is some very interesting information regarding honeystomachs:
“Bumblebees gather nectar into their honeystomachs to transport it back to the nest. The honeystomach is located in the abdomen, and it is just a cuticle-lined bag with a long neck located at the mouthparts. It holds 0.06 - 0.20 ml, depending on the size of bumblebee, and when full can take up as much as 95% of the abdominal space and hold 90% of the body weight.
During foraging the bee needs energy, so she will consume some of the contents of the honeystomach. To allow her to do this there is a small valve at the end which can allow some of the nectar to pass into the bee's own digestive system. It has been estimated that a full honeystomach will give a bumblebee about 40 minutes of flying time.
Some flowers contain as little as 0.001 ml of nectar, so to fill her honeystomach the bumblebee may have to suck nectar from 60 flowers, and to find these 60 she may have to visit 100 or more. Then she will return to the nest, which may be as much as two miles away. So providing a supply of nectar for her nestmates would not be possible without the honeystomach to carry it in. A teaspoon holds about 5 ml and nectar is about half water, so to fill a teaspoon of honey a small bumblebee might need to make over 80 foraging trips, flying up to 320 miles, and sucking 80 000 flowers! Honeybees also have a honeystomach, and as they are smaller than bumblebees they would have to make even more foraging trips. Think of that next time you spread honey on your toast!”
Thursday, July 15, 2010
After weeks of excessive heat with temperatures in the 90s and even into the 100s, the lawn has taken a beating. Usually grass will go into a dormancy period. Although we have had a couple days of rain, the grass is still quite brown and the question is whether it should be mowed or not. It has not been mowed for 3 weeks. Based on some information online, lawns should be kept long – anywhere from 3-4 inches long so the sun can not reach the roots. Ours is about 2-3 inches long so we will wait another week.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Regarding the weak hive, we had killed the second queen as she too was not laying and had added the hive body to the top of the strong hive to keep mice at bay. We returned it to the original platform before we removed the honey supers keeping in mind that it only takes bees 45 minutes to realize they do not have a queen. Later in the day we added a nuc to the weak hive which we purchased from Mark Antunes and has a ton of bees and a queen that lays beautifully. To add the nuc we did the following: On top of the original hive body, we placed a queen excluder and then a sheet of newspaper with a few slates cut into it and then added a hive body we had been saving in the freezer that still had built out frames, some even filled with honey. We removed 5 frames and then added the nuc which is basically a mini hive with 5 frames of brood and a queen. We added 2 jars of light sugar water and hope we can get this hive in good shape before the winter. We returned a few days later to remove the queen excluder and newspaper and hope that they have happily become acquainted with one another.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
For more information, see: