Tag Archive | snow

Ready for Spring

January 25, 2016 (Monday)

Hives in snow

It’s been an uneventful winter up til now.  Mother nature just hit us with a good 3 feet of snow this past weekend.  I know that’s not a big deal for some of you northern folks, but for us Marylanders, that’s a butt load of snow!

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How are the bees?  To bee honest, I won’t really know until the temperatures rise so I open the hives and add candy.  I’m hoping they have enough bees to stay warm and enough food to keep them going.  As I cleared snow off the hives, I did notice some dead bees in front of the entrances.   One or two flew out to see what was going on.  That’s always a good sign.

January is the time for clustering and keeping warm.  February and March is the time when they begin to produce more bees in preparation for spring, so keeping them fed and well ventilated during that time will be key to a strong start come spring.  Pollen patties are also on my to-do list.

As we were snowed in, I made a nice 10 lb batch of candy for the girls.  And we can’t forget the birds either, so I melted some tallow that had been rendered for soaps and mixed in some bird seed to make suet cakes.  Next week we cold crash and bottle a 10 gallon batch of blueberry mead, which will go on to age indefinitely.  We’re staying busy with indoor activities, but definitely looking forward to spring.   Hope everyone’s bees are doing well.  Stay safe and warm.

Candy and suet

 

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Bees Get a Warm Day for Christmas

Saturday, December 21, 2013

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Hives after a recent snowfall.

My Christmas present came a few days early this year.  A sunny 60 degree day revealed 3 active hives.  I couldn’t be more excited and more grateful after a month and a half of cold and snow and wet, which for a beekeeper equates to waiting and not knowing.

Yesterday morning, Green Hive 1 and Yellow Hive 2 were busy with bees flying in and out, taking their much needed cleansing flights.  Yes, bees have to relieve themselves too or disentery could set in – one of many potential problems faced by the bees during the winter, along with excessive moisture, mites and pests, starvation and disease.  The bees can actually take quite a bit of cold, so freezing is not usually a problem.  Heck, bees are commonly kept all the way up through Canada.  If they can take those temps, then 30 degrees is nothing.

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A few weeks later, 60 degrees and sunny and the bees are alive and well!

Later that afternoon, Blue Hive 3 had joined the activity.   Everyone was out and about, cleaning house and enjoying the sunshine.  I opened the tops to add more food. Who knows when I’ll get a chance to peek in again.  The girls were buzzing around me a little, but they were surprisingly docile, and many were up top enjoying the candy.  I piled up their food stores and put them away til our next 60 degree day.

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Adding food to help them through the coming months. This photos actually shows what not to do. Only cover 1/4-1/3 of the frames on the side that first receives the morning sun. Too much coverage impedes air flow and can cause moisture to be retained in the hive.

We still have a long way to go.  January and February could be brutal, and their numbers have dwindled – typical for winter when they’re focusing on staying warm rather than reproducing.  Remember, the life of a worker bee is only about 21 days.  The closer we get to spring, the more the bees will begin eating like crazy.  This is often when the starvation sets in.  The trick is to always stay 5 steps ahead.  Now I know they’ll survive our cold, that their stores are good.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed them.  A wonderful gift indeed – a day of validation that my bees are still alive and that I must be doing something right.  Now I sit back and wait some more, and continue to hope.

Best wishes to everyone!  May your holidays bee merry and bright!  And may you and your bees bee healthy and happy in 2014!