The numbers in any hive are mind boggling. not that I’ve had the time or the inclination to stop and count when I have had the hive open. A healthy colony may have a summer population of about 60,000 and a queen could be laying 1000 a day.
However, when I went to top up the syrup, two bees had gone into the main part of the reservoir and looked as though they were on their last legs. I paid good money for my bees but more than that, I have become fond of them and a single life lost is a regret. So, I used a twig and a leaf respectively and resolutely battled the slippy slidy sugary solution adhering to the container to lift them from the reservoir and place the greenery close to the hive entrance. It took a few seconds but they struggled free and flew into the hive. I guess fellow bees will have been happy to lick them clean and I got back to replenishing stocks in the feeder.
My BH had come along and come quite close so he could get a better idea of what was happening. I haven’t told him that some of the sugar is indeed from the housekeeping stores! As an engineer who had dealt with fluid dynamics, the fact he was impressed with the contraption was pleasing. And it is clever. The circular well has a conical upstanding opening in the centre. An inverted clear plastic ‘beaker’ fits over this kept a little distance from the plastic of the opening by some small plastic lugs so there is a bee spaced area where the bees can come and then crawl down to the current level of the syrup. The slope of the conical sides means they can climb back up. The inverted cup means that they are normally enclosed within it and so don’t fly at me when I refill. Then I put a circular lid over the whole thing. I try to fill the container quite slowly – I haven’t felt the need to be kitted up – as I have not wanted to drown any of them. unfortunately there are a couple of bodies so I guess some have either been caught as it is restocked or just been too greedy or too adventurous.
They seem to be using about a pint/1 ib sugar mix per day when weather is a little cooler so I am starting to realise I need to mix a larger amount or buy another feeder.
Refilling is done as evening falls to reduce the number of bees or wasps that gather round.
By the way, dear experts, I remembered to remove the leaf and the twig used for the rescue mentioned earlier as I realised that left near the entrance they could encourage robbing.
And thanks to Ted Hooper I see there is a formula to help me work out how much honey could arise from the syrup. 2 lbs of sugar equates to two and a half lbs of honey. On the other hand, he also says that the hive needs about 50 lbs of honey and before I had been told 35 lb would see them through the winter!