We had an interesting experience on Saturday.
I took my children out to the farm where we keep several of our hives just to play around out by the pond. The pond is a good 50 yards or so from the hives. It was a moderately hot day and we were sweating fairly profusedly but having a good time of it. Suddenly bees by the dozens started descending upon us. Of course the kids were terrified, but in general we just ignored the bees and went about our business. No one was stung and the bees never did act aggressively. They just seemed to want a taste of our sweat.
Now, I've frequently had a bee or two, on a hot day, come for a taste of perspiration, but we're talking DOZENS of bees per person. They obviously didn't need the water (we were right on the ponds' edge) so I would guess they were after the salt.
Other than salt in some grease patty recipes, I have not seen any advice to actually feed salt to bees. In fact, I've seen studies where very low concentrations of sodium chloride can wreak havoc on caged bees' digestive systems.
On the one hand, it appears that my country bees are starved for salt. On the other hand, I don't want to poison them.
Suggestions would be appreciated.
Yes I have been thinking about this too.
I add stuff to my bees sugar syrup and tonight I added kelp to the mixture I'm feeding tomarrow.
I do believe they seek out the minerals when they need it.
If you want to try it, I would do the salt or other minerals seperate from the syrup so they can choose them if they want and not have to take them to get the sugar. Some salt water might be an interesting experiment. There was a thread on here about "salting bees". Check it out for other opinions.
It has always intrigued me why my bees seem to prefer the neighbors pool over the fresh water source I provide. I thought it was some missing mineral or chemical. . .
Mine kind of like the scummy water over the fresh water, but seem to gather both. I've always figured it's like nectar. They learn to associate a smell with the result. They smell nectar and collect it. They smell water and collect. Smelly water is easier to find if you have a good nose. Chlorine smelling water is probably easier to find than nonsmelling water. Scummy water is probably easier to smell than clean water too.
I have noticed bees on mineral salt licks in the farm yard so I have been putting about 1 tea spone of ground mineral salt on my top covers and have found that about 1/2 of it is gone by the next visit in 2 weeks
just South of Lansing Michigan
Salt. It has been said by oldtimers that bees do better if you give them some salt. I add some in there feed on occation or there water supply. Never tried add on covers though will have to try it.
That's a good idea. I will give it a try when we head back out to the pond this weekend. Hopefully the bees will find their salt needs met with a sprinkle of salt on the top cover and will leave our sweat alone.
I may also give the salt water and perhaps a salt block a try...maybe even attract a few deer while we're at it.
It sure does appear that they are lacking salt, or some mineral or another, in their diet--although, other than this strange behavior the bees couldn't appear to be more healthy.
(Maybe I should think about starting a collection and setting out cups of vintage perspiration... Um, sweat-flavored honey. Ok, thought about it: No.)
I am new to beekeeping this year. In my readings, I have read in a older publication to feed bees salt. The recommendation was to toss a pinch or two into the opening onto the bottom board.
Now, I couldn't get it into my hive that way, because it's always full of bees.
I dont know if placing it ontop of a cover would be a good idea. Since other animals are attracted to the salt. I have heard about skunks eating bees, they knock on the hive and eat the guards that come out. If they are attracted to salt, you might not want to place salt outside the hive.
MB - Daisy
think that one teaspoon for every three gallons of syrup might be too much?
Since we don't know how much is the right amount, I wouldn't add it to the syrup. I'd put it out seperate and let the bees decide how much they want. Too much could make them very sick.
Bullseye Bill, I add a healthy pinch of salt to a two gallon recipe of sugar syrup. (estimate about 1/8 teaspoon) I've done this once a month for the past three months. I did it yesterday in their last nutritional feeding for the year because my bees were all over me for as a salt lick. If your bees start licking you, give them salt somehow or other.
They need minerals.
>Too much could make them very sick.
That was my concern, however if Daisy hasn't killed hers yet, maybe a pinch won't hurt.
Not licked yet
I still like the idea of getting a little gerbil salt block to stick in the hive. It's about the size of a quarter and about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. Not sure how much they cost though. Could always cut it into fourths.
Or buy a horse salt block and hit it with a sledge hammer.
This past weekend I rubbed against something like poison ivy and had a 1 inch square area of rash. Not sure really what it was since I never had poison before. Anyways, I put some ointment on it and went back outside. I will say that I had been sweating alot but between the sweat and the ointment, several bees were persistant till they could land and lick the back of my hand. I can't say what was in the ingredients since the stuff was from europe and alot of the discriptive compounds are coded by numbers. (E312, E253, etc. As examples)
The point is that they were not collecting water, pollen, or nectar.