Saturday, July 7, 2012

Feed Dee Bees

Yesterday I noticed that there was a mob (and I do mean a mob, at least 25 or so) of honeybees all over the hummingbird feeders. I have two feeders out now, one with "bee guards" that keep the bees from drowning in the feeders, and one without, because the hummers seem to dislike the bee guards. I got the feeder with the bee guards because I generally get a lot of "sweat bees" who climb all the way into the feeder and drown, which makes me sad.
My older feeder, with no bee guards.

The hummers are tiny creatures, and seemed daunted by the swarm of bees. So I did some googling and found that one can move honeybees away from hummer feeders by feeding them. The ratio of sugar to water is much higher for bees than hummers. Nectar for hummingbirds should be made at a ratio of 4:1, four parts water to one part sugar. For bees, you can go 2:1 or even 1:1, depending on the time of year. I opted for a 2:1 ratio.

The new feeder, with bee guards.
As always, I boiled the water (to kill any molds or fungus) then mixed the sugar in. For the first batch I added some red food coloring, but then once I had the bees moved, left it out (and am using a red plate instead to attract them.) They drink a ton, but I figure they need it, we're supposed to have a high of 103 today with a heat index of 110. The thermometer on the back porch in full sun was reading 108 at 11 am, and I imagine it will only get higher!

Here's my set-up for the bees, I put rocks in the plate so they'd have someplace to land and tiptoe down to the syrup, didn't want anyone drowning in it. Not sure how long I should feed them for (have a query in to a friend who keeps bees), but for now, will keep making sugar water and adding it to the plate until some rain falls or they go away.

Using plates and rocks to feed the bees.