mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!
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  1. #1
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    Question mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    I've been outside feeding lately (using dishes of syrup placed in shallow trashcan lids with a little water in them - to keep out ants). I know the cautions about outside feeding but still choose to do it for now.

    Today, I noticed wads of dead bees in the shallow moat outside the bees' feeding dish. I see lots of bees fall from the dish after they load up with the syrup, but the water's not deep enough for them to drown in, so .... what's happening? Are they so weighed down they can't keep the proboscis above water? Seems to me most should be able to simply climb over the dead bodies of their sisters and leave the can lid.

    Any ideas as to what I could concoct to keep this from happening? Other than inner-feeding, I mean. I can't come up with a sensible rationale for why this is happening in the 1st place.

    Thx for thoughts on it ....

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    If they get a little syrup on them then hit water they are done.

    How to prevent? Suggest putting your dish of syrup on a tube of some kind with some grease on it to stop the ants.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  4. #3
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    syrup in an open dish is the cause. bees get stuck up and exhaust themselves trying to clean off so they can fly. They are dead ducks when they hit the water moat. Cover the syrup surface with bits of wood and then a thin layer of shavings to form a mat. They will push down into the mat so they can suck up syrup with their probiscus. Bees cant hover like humming birds and they really have no good way of cleaning up.

    Bees wet with honey within the colony will be cleaned up by their hive mates: totally different chemistry going on at an external feed source!
    Frank

  5. #4
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Thx much, guys; I wasn't aware the stickiness issue would be a problem. Makes perfect sense to me, though. I just dumped a gallon of syrup into a dish (no water in the lid underneath, though --this time). The dish has lots of wine corks in it, but I see I need to do more!

    Mitch

  6. #5
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    If they get a little syrup on them then hit water they are done.

    How to prevent? Suggest putting your dish of syrup on a tube of some kind with some grease on it to stop the ants.
    Obliged!

    BTW, my little manuka seems to be thriving. Nice little bright-red blooms on it. Winter's not far away so that'll be the real test ....

    Mitch

  7. #6
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    Thx much, guys; I wasn't aware the stickiness issue would be a problem. Makes perfect sense to me, though. I just dumped a gallon of syrup into a dish (no water in the lid underneath, though --this time). The dish has lots of wine corks in it, but I see I need to do more!

    Mitch
    Wine corks will not do; they roll and dump the bees. Bees crowd the front ones and trample the underdogs into the syrup. You need something like straw or coarse shavings that the bees can cling to. Do a google on University of Guelph open feeding.
    Frank

  8. #7
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Wine corks will not do; they roll and dump the bees. Bees crowd the front ones and trample the underdogs into the syrup. You need something like straw or coarse shavings that the bees can cling to. Do a google on University of Guelph open feeding.
    OK -- it's appreciated. I have cedar shavings I could use. Would clean pinestraw be an option?

  9. #8
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    Dec 2017
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    OK -- it's appreciated. I have cedar shavings I could use. Would clean pinestraw be an option?
    I would not overthink and use any dry plant residue as scaffolding for the bees; it does not really matter.
    I use dry sticks laying under the hedge (left there after pruning).
    Speaking of "clean" - bees get into places getting their water - you don't want to know about.

    I would use pine straw if available just fine. But make it a thick layer.
    Prefer thicker material so that individual pieces can support bees (individual pine straws can not reliably support bees - too heavy).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Try pine needles to see if they float high enough and have enough body that a few layers of bees can walk on without sinking. Hay does not work well as it gets too soft and waterlogged. Grain straw stays stiff and floats. The bees prefer to keep their feet dry and just wet their whistles
    Frank

  11. #10
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Dry wood brush/sticks, broken up to pieces (up to pencil thick) are about the best, IMO.
    No negatives.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
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    Jun 2015
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    Deep Brook, NS, Canada
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    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    I've been outside feeding lately (using dishes of syrup placed in shallow trashcan lids with a little water in them - to keep out ants). I know the cautions about outside feeding but still choose to do it for now.
    I use these bucket feeders for outside feeding.
    https://youtu.be/u77xCjLySTM
    I want bees that make up for my mistakes.

  13. #12
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    Aug 2017
    Location
    Wimer, Oregon
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    118

    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    I've been outside feeding lately (using dishes of syrup placed in shallow trashcan lids with a little water in them - to keep out ants). I know the cautions about outside feeding but still choose to do it for now.

    Today, I noticed wads of dead bees in the shallow moat outside the bees' feeding dish. I see lots of bees fall from the dish after they load up with the syrup, but the water's not deep enough for them to drown in,

    so .... what's happening? Are they so weighed down they can't keep the proboscis above water?

    Seems to me most should be able to simply climb over the dead bodies of their sisters and leave the can lid.

    Any ideas as to what I could concoct to keep this from happening? Other than inner-feeding, I mean. I can't come up with a sensible rationale for why this is happening in the 1st place.

    Thx for thoughts on it ....

    Bees breathe through a complex structure of network of tracheas and air sacs, they do not breathe through noses, mouths, or the probiscus.

    Oxygen is vacuumed into the body through openings on each segment of their body (spiracles) by the expansion and contraction of air sacs, then the spiracles are closed and air sacs are compressed to force the air into smaller tracheas, which become smaller and smaller until individual tubules reach individual cells.
    DavidZ

  14. #13
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    Apr 2015
    Location
    Hathaway, CA
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    71

    Default Re: mass of dead bees in feeder's shallow "moat"; any ideas re: why?!

    I have come through experience, whenever I have large amounts of drowned bees in a feeder, the hive is almost always suffering from Nosema c. when I went back performed spore counts. Worse the drowned bees then become a source for spreading the infection through the syrup, so I have moved away from frame feeders.

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