Beekeeper on Vacation

Fast Eaters, Fast Builders

We left our bees alone with as much food as we could find space for and left on vacation.  We were gone for a little over two weeks and kept our fingers crossed the whole time.  We weren’t sure there would be enough sugar water for them since they’ve been taking the food pretty fast.  Some of them had already started foraging before we left and there are plenty of flowers and trees in the area.  However, they are new in the neighborhood and we didn’t want the queen to take her brood and abandon the hive.

It wasn’t a good vacation.  I spent a lot of time worrying about them.  What are they going to do when the food runs out?  Are they going to be robbed?  Will they be there when we get back?  I showed our neighbor, Natalie, how to feed them if necessary but cautioned her not to bother.  I didn’t want to burden her or have her be accidentally stung.  She fed them anyway and was stung as a reward.  She also changed the water in the birdbath close to the hive, a genuine kindness as bees need access to clean water.

We staggered in from the airport around 11 pm and I went out to check on them with a flashlight before the luggage left the car.  I didn’t open the hive, I just checked at the entrance to see any sign of bees.  I let my breath out when little faces looked back at me from the entrance hole.

Note to self:  Don’t start a new hive before going on a vacation.

All four feeders are empty.

We checked all the feeders early the next morning; all empty.  We removed the top feeders and just fed them from the front single as we always do.  We did the second inspection and to our amazement, the second super we added before we left was half full.  Three racks were filled with capped cells, two racks were either half or three quarter filled.  Bees all over the place.  We decided to add one more super… give them some room to expand the brood.

From what I have read, we have to feed them until they stop taking it.  I hope they stop taking food soon since they consume about 10 lbs. of sugar every three days.  That is quite a lot of sugar.  What do I know, this may be nothing to the bee standard.  If they’re happy, I’m happy.  I just wish I had a bigger feeder so I won’t have to fill it three times a day.

Our second inspection. Checking the top super.
A rack filled with capped cells from the top super.

5 thoughts on “Beekeeper on Vacation

  1. Are you planning to harvest the honey in these supers? If so, it’s not a good idea to feed, as you won’t have honey in there but evaporated down sugar syrup, with none of the floral flavours of honey. In some countries (like the UK) it’s illegal to sell this “honey”.

    In spring/summer you only need to feed if they don’t have stores and bad weather and/or a lack of available forage stop them collecting nectar. Hope this helps.

    1. Thank you very much for your advice. I don’t plan to harvest the honey this year. My mentor mentioned that it’s rare to be able to harvest the first year. It’s my first time keeping bees so I’m still learning. I thought when you start a new hive you should feed them until they no longer take it so I kept feeding them. They’re also foraging and drinking water but they take sugar water even more than the first week in this hive. I will take your advice to stop feeding them.

    1. You’re right, she’s a rare gem. If I succeed with the bees this year, she will have her own hive to keep me company next year. I’m pretty much a test case for her.

    2. Ah sorry, no harm done then. Just didn’t want you to be disappointed by the honey! Glad they’re doing so well, probably as a result of all the loving care they’ve received from you and Natalie 🙂

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