Mould is bad
For the last few weeks we've noticed the mould on the rapid feeder grow and grow. Mould is a very big deal for bees, and, although removing and cleaning the rapid feeder is doubtless a fairly invasive operation, not allowing the mould to take hold in the hive is far more important.
From a bee's point of view, someone coming along and taking away a very convenient source of food isn't going to be very popular. And of course even if there's not too much in the way of sugar left in the feeder, the bees will still be all over it. So you have to remove them from this feeder, that they see as a source of infinite food. If you're not careful there will be a few that will fall in the syrup (I fished them all out). If you're even less careful, a few bees will get back in and hitch a ride back home on the feeder. I shook them off outside my house and when I came back out with a clean feeder and syrup they were on the door, wanting to get back to that sugar. They eventually gave up and hopefully made their way back home!
Though there wasn't one sting and not one bee killed, and really no angry buzzing either, but I don't think this was the best way to get the job done. I think perhaps in future I'll get a second rapid feeder that I'll switch to, and take the first feeder out when the bees eventually lose interest in it. However, the mould is now all gone and the feeder is refilled with clean syrup. Before long winter will be upon us and we'll switch to sucrose syrup, so this will be last rapid feeder clean this year.
In all honesty, I think last year I would have just turned a blind eye to this. This year with Dan we are going for more of a 'beekeeping as disease management' philosophy and so jumping on potential problems like this is more of a focus, even if they don't like it.
Given how docile they are, I've moved from wearing a boiler-suit-style bee suit to a simpler jacket with veil. I've also now got a simple box-shaped veil to wear by itself for when all I need to do is to tip the syrup in the feeder. I'd never be able to do that with the bees in Somerset.
Back home, Dave tells me that he's got hold of a leftover nuc from a breeder this year that is now a full colony. They are still laying, so Dave has taken them on. Even though I haven't been able to be involved with that apiary this year, things sound good there, with three strong colonies being prepared for the winter.