Arlyn Gale

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since Jan 02, 2015
Colorado Front Range (7000')
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Recent posts by Arlyn Gale

Nicole - good to see you looking into it. I don't see feeding bees as an evil thing. I do it on occasion, to help colonies in need and sometimes to prepare them for increasing numbers.

Feeding a new colony might almost be considered a responsibility. You've provided a young colony with a home & now they may need a boost to get settled in. They are often in a precarious position until the second/third brood cycle hatch. I usually only feed until they are well established - then they are on their own. I've found that they often stop taking syrup when a good natural flow begins. Understandably, some may disagree with this approach.

Knapweed appears to provide a substantial flow at times. Our county has, in the past, had an aggressive plan to eliminate it as it is an aggressive, non-native species. I doubt they realize (or care) that is is of any benefit to the bees. The bees seem to prefer clover or alfalfa when they are available. Knapweed seems to be a bit more drought tolerant.
5 years ago
My first thought, when I read the OP, was "the best kind of ("stun") hive - an empty one...

I've kept bees for the better part of 4 decades. I have done so with minimal treatment. I've had a "survivors rule" mentality.

There is much good discussion here.

A couple things to consider:

Commercial bee producers may have faults in the grand scheme but many of them have sacrificed hundreds and thousands of hives, year after year, to improve the genetics of "survivability". There are ongoing "survivor" programs that have been underway for years. Were I to consider a "STUN" hive, this is the stock I would seek - this "survivor stock". The more local, the better.

A swarm may or may not have originated from a "true" feral colony. How many generations removed from "commercial" a "feral" hive is would be difficult to determine. I suspect most swarms are from some beekeeper's stock, and who knows if those were treated or treatment free. A few swarms may be from "feral" colonies - likely a small percentage. A swarm is certainly no guarantee that the bees have "survival" tendencies - they may just be a sick swarm from a sick or dying colony.

Wild colonies may also just be one year removed - having survived a single season - and not necessarily containing much more "survivor" DNA. It is quite likely that the longer colonies remain feral, the fewer they are in number. Finding one is like finding a gold mine, these days.

If you are familiar with some long established feral colony ( and can be reasonably certain that they aren't just dying out & being replaced every year) these would also be good stock to try to obtain.

5 years ago
I agree with you, Jacob, that's what I try to do - leave more than enough honey on in the fall. Nothing is better for the bees.

In a pinch, sugar & water will provide emergency feed, and feeding can be advantageous if you have plans for expansion beyond what nature will provide in your timeline.

I've almost never fed syrup. Understanding how to more closely mimic nectar or honey, when & if one feeds, is something to think about.

According to Michael Bush ("The Practical Beekeeper")

" There are more than 170 kinds of benign or beneficial mites, as many or more kinds of insects, 8,000 or more benign or beneficial microorganisms that have been identified so far, some of which we know the bees cannot live without and some of which we suspect keep other pathogens in balance. "

What/if we feed can almost certainly have both positive and negative implications for the overall health of the hive.
5 years ago
It's one of those "you decide what you think is best" kind of things.The extremes for nectar pH range are given - the question "what is the (more realistic) average" is a valid one. The extreme 8.5 nectar pH is for Rhododendron - not one of the "main flow" sources, but certainly one the bees might visit.

Here's some of the discussion:

and more:

The Baker paper states that Ascorbic acid occurs naturally in some nectars. It is elsewhere reported that neutral (unadjusted) pH syrup promotes the growth of AHB, EHB, Chalk brood & Nosema.

My intent with adding Vit C hasn't been to improve the food value for the bees. It appears, from the same source you quote, that ascorbic acid acts "like" a catalyst for inversion of the syrup - arguably "better" food. It inhibits mold & fermentation. It's cheap and easy - just test & adjust for your particular water source.

I've yet to find any substantial negatives to adding it.

5 years ago

So far I've just used the Vitamin C we have on hand - presumably from the local store. It can be readily had on line ( also as "ascorbic acid"). Avoid "buffered" Vitamin C - it has been alkalized ( pH adjusted).


I would assume that nectar is ~ the same pH as honey - ~ 3.2-4.5 .

On another note - using vinegar will increase the "odor" which may be good ( help the bees find it), or bad - help the robber bees find it.

5 years ago
When, how & why to feed are subjects of great debate & discussion.

A simple addition to sugar & water is Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). ~1500mg/gallon will reduce the pH to near that of honey. Why? Because the "near neutral" pH of sugar syrup promotes a number of hive problems - American Foul Brood, European Foulcbrood, Chalkbrood & Nosema, to name a few.

If you have a pH tester, aim for somewhere in the normal range of honey, 3.2-4.5 . Some also use vinegar but I haven't seen a reliable recipe.

When I've found need to feed, I've used 1500mg of Vit C/gallon.

'Makes sense...?

for more info - see "Ecology of the Hive",

5 years ago
I aspire to casting a "super-riser" some day. In the mean time, mine is composed of $32 worth of 2800* insulating fire brick. It has only been working intermittently, & for a fairly short time, but it was relatively easy to fashion and is presently holding up just fine. I'll let you know if & when it fails.
5 years ago
Having read (and re-read) this I believe the primary cause of the smoke back issue is the height ( or lack thereof) of the "plunger tube" above the (stove) floor base. This is the exit into the chimney flue - right?

While raising it will lower the efficiency of the stove a bit there may still be substantial gain overall. Try raising your "plunger tube" to a height even with or slightly above the burn chamber roof.

If that doesn't work well enough - raise it a bit more to a height even with or slightly above the feed tube inlet.

If I'm reading this right, it appears that the low plunger tube exit is creating the conditions which are contributing to the excessive smoke back.
5 years ago
Aside from not knowing what the "8146" implies, a key to your description is the "sitting in storage" part. If they were NOT charged, and were exposed to freezing temps, they may have been damaged ( cases cracked). If you get the normal warranty at that price, then it's still a good deal.

Check & see if they are (still) charged. Most chargers have an indicator of the battery condition. Check for cracks in the cases or leakage. $50 sounds like a good deal for most any "new" battery if they still come with any kind of warranty. If not, and they were uncharged and exposed to freezing - very risky.
5 years ago

Peter van den Berg wrote:Funny isn't it? I've made the drawings a couple of years ago and the guys who were filming the workshop found it worthwhile to picture the layer by layer method. Every now and then this video and/or the pictures in it are passing by, leaving me grinning like a Cheshire cat...

It's pleasing to hear this brought a smile to your face, Peter. It should. You've provided a very valuable and informative source for anyone lost or wandering through the planning stages! (like I was)
Once these were gathered and supplemented with your "dimensions" spreadsheet, the rest became much easier. The video of a semi-permanent "in-home build" was comforting - seeing an RMH build that had obviously taken into consideration the concerns of a safe, lasting, indoor build.

My vote would be for this to become "must see" in the "where to start" category
5 years ago