I'm a complete bee newbie, and a couple of weeks ago, a swarm of bees found my hummingbird feeders. I went to fill up my feeders, and found them inundated with bees (I had no bee-guards on my feeders because the hummingbirds prefer them without the bee-guards, and up until now, that hasnít been a problem).
Well I didnít want to hurt the bees, so I decided Iíd feed them too, but in a location about forty feet from the hummingbird feeders. I put bee-guards back on the hummingbird feeders, to discourage the bees from that location, and adapted a large, two pint hummingbird feeder for the bees, by leaving off the top part of the plastic feeding base, and floating slices of a wine-cork in the nectar, so the bees would have something to sit on while they Ďsippedí on the two pints of nectar.
Well the bees love their new Ďbee-feederí, but they arenít sipping the nectar Ė theyíre quaffing it, at a rate of half a gallon per day! And, if I donít happen to realize that the Ďbee feederí is empty at around noonish, then the bees make their way back to the hummingbirds feeders, and start pestering the poor hummers again.
I guess I could go out and buy another Ďtwo pint feederí, and leave two feeders out at a time so I can at least get through a day without having to refill the 'bee feeder' (itís not that easy to take it away from them Ė they donít want to get off it).
Iíve made the bee nectar the same strength as for the hummers Ė one cup of sugar to four cups of water. And, Iíve provided another bee-adapted hummingbird feeder that just contains water. They donít really like that one too much, and only try it when theyíre absolutely desperate.
Where I live is so hot and dry Ė temps of close to 100 F, and tinder dry for at least the last month, and no expectation of rain for the next two to three months. I understand that these gentle little bees are probably thirsty, but they are making life very uncomfortable for the hummers that Iíve dutifully fed year round for the last three years. Most of my hummers have given up now, and gone elsewhere
These are really gentle bees Ė I suspect they may be the stingless type, since Iíve been interacting with them, and blowing them off feeders etc, and have not been stung, even though I may have deserved it a couple of times.
I'm willing to continue to feed these bees, because I donít want them to die, but my newbie guess is that my new Ďbest bee friendsí are not a wild hive, but an escaped commercial hive that has always been fed sugar water to maximize honey production. My reason for thinking this is that at first, I didnít realize just how hungry/thirsty the bees were, and when I went out later to see how they were doing, the feeder was bone dry, and about 10 of the bees were lying dead in the feeder, Iím assuming from getting too hot and too dry; itís like these bees donít know how to do anything else but eat from a sugar-water feeder.
What I find odd is that the local bumble bees are quite happy buzzing around the starthistle etc, and never go near the hummingbird feeders or the adapted bee-feeders. How come they arenít desperate for sugar-water too?
Iím happy to have the bees around, but right now, I'm a slave to them, and whereís the point if all they do is guzzle sugar-water? Iíve never seen any of them with a speck of pollen on their back legs.
I can't even collect honey from them since their hive is not on my property. I suspect it's in an old open shed on a neighboring property.
Any advice, suggestions, sugar donations or comments would be much appreciated.