Tag Archive | weather

Bees are Springing to Life!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

We had a wonderfully warm high 50’s day and the bees were crazy!!!  I started into winter with 5 hives, and had one that died out and 4 that appear to bee thriving.  I couldn’t bee more excited!

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So now that spring is in the air and the bees know it, what’s a beekeeper to do?  Well, spring is all about getting those girls up and running ASAP.  They’ve been clustered all winter, so they have some catching up to do!  They’ve been feeding on sugar cakes, and they likely have plenty of pollen stored up, but to bee safe I whipped up a batch of my gourmet pollen patties.

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When temps are consistently in the 50’s, then I’ll put some jars of syrup on the hives and that will really get the queens laying so they can get their numbers up.  The more bees, the more nectar and pollen can be brought into the hive when things begin to bloom, and the more honey they’ll produce.

Remember those swarms last year?  Well, that’s what overwintered hives do when they run out of room and don’t have enough ventilation.  This year, I plan to stay on top of things and make sure they have both.  I also intend to plant several swarm traps around the yard, and we need to figure out where we can put more hives.  Yee gads, more hives you say?  Now you sound like my husband.  You’ve gotta put ’em somewhere when you catch ’em.  Of course, I’ve heard other beekeepers say they’ve had more success catching other people’s swarms than their own when using swarm traps.  Hey, that’s ok too.  My swarms are probably happily residing in someone else’s hive.

Temps will be in the 40’s and 50’s this week, with a chance of snow on Thursday.  Ugh!!  Just when we thought it was over!  That’s always a bad thing when temps are warmer, then sudden cold sets in and the bees aren’t ready for it.  Just shows that we’re not out of the woods quite yet.  Regardless, I’ll bee cleaning frames and adding top boxes with jars of sugar syrup so the girls can get themselves juiced up.

Would love to hear how everyone else’s hives are doing and their strategies for pushing into spring!  All the best for happy spring hives!

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Home Built Hive Windbreakers

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Part 1 – Exterior Winter Prep

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The hubster has done it again.  I’ve been agonizing over our plan for winter prep.  Exterior windbreakers are half of the plan.  Hay bales are popular, wrapping hives with roofing paper or cardboard, etc.  Lots of ideas out there, but the consensus on wrapping, at least in our area, is that although it keeps the heat in and protects from the wind,wrapping also keeps the moisture in and prevents the hives from “breathing”.  Dripping condensation and moisture will kill the bees, especially during freezing temperatures.  So good ventilation is imperative.

We decided against wrapping and opted for barriers that would envelop three sides, leaving the fronts of the hives open so the girls can come and go as the temperatures fluctuate.  The hubster came up with wooden frames that wrap around the outside of the hives, leaving air space between the frames and the hive boxes for circulation, while protecting the hives from wind.   The outside of the frames are lined with black roofing paper to retain heat from the sun.  The bottoms are anchored to the ground with large railroad nails, and the tops are open to allow easy access into the hives.  The bees don’t mind them one bit (always a plus), access is much easier than if they’d been wrapped, and we can reuse the frames year after year.

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I confess that having only a few hives does afford the luxury of experimenting with more elaborate solutions like this.  And it helps to have a woodworker in the house.

As for the inside, they’re ok for now, but after more research, I believe I have a simple and effective solution figured out.  So stay tuned for ideas on how to configure the insides of your hives for winter.