December 24, 2015
Happy Holidays to everyone! I’m woefully behind on bee updates, and now that all the holiday hustle and bustle is slowing down, it’s a good time for a quick recap of the past few months…
Picking up Where We Left Off…
Not sure if you recall the Price of Slacking post from mid-September. Laying patterns were sporadic or brood was dwindling in three hives. For the record, this is not uncommon when the seasons change and the bees begin to transition their focus from multiplying their numbers to storing food for the winter. Regardless, I made the mistake of getting involved by ordering 3 mite resistant queens from PA ($150 w/ shipping, yikes!). High price due to 1) scarcity of queens that time of year, and 2) they were good quality, mite resistant queens from a very reputable breeder. And they came from PA, so I knew they could withstand our winter.
New Queens in the Hives
For the first time, I entered the hives with the intent of pinching queens. Of course, when I reentered hives to replace the queens, the brood patterns had improved in all three hives. Ugh! Too late, I had the queens in hand, so I found and pinched 2 nice looking queens in Purple and Blue hives and added the new queens. I felt sick over it and decided I will not do that again. However, I was patting myself on the back upon realizing that I am indeed capable of successfully identifying unmarked queens.
Green hive had dwindled in numbers, so I reduced their boxes down to two and could not find their queen. I ended up leaving them with their existing queen…which left me with one homeless queen. I gave her to a fellow bee club member and tried to brush this fiasco out of mind.
RIP Blue Hive
Blue Hive did not take. They died out within a week or two. The queen in Purple Hive did take. We entered winter with 4 hives. Who knows if they would still be going had I not gotten involved. I know I’d be $150 richer!
Ever Forward…into Winter
I winterized the girls in October, adding the wind barriers and mouse guards. I made candy, which was added to the hives a week ago. Believe it or not, we’ve had 70 degree weather in December here in MD. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but the bees seem to enjoy it when the sun shines. It’s been wet, so ventilation and ice are at the top of my concerns this winter.
All four hives are still going. Green hive is small and fragile, so I don’t have high hopes for them. Yellow hive is not as strong as they had been over the summer. Mint and Purple hives are currently my two strongest. As I’ve said many times, anything can happen at any time. Just keep them fed and well ventilated, and hope for the best.
In the meantime, we’re making good use of the honey. The hubster has already made a braggot (honey beer), and I have 10 gallons of mead aging in the hall closet. We’ve been eating it and cooking with it. I made cream honey for Christmas gifts, and I’ve been making lots of lotions and potions to sell for my Bead and Bubble business. We’ll have an online store up soon.
Three Years of BooBee Honey!
All in all, we’re truly blessed with our bees and blessed to have so many friends and family who are interested in learning and reading about them. I’ve been writing this blog for three years. Hard to believe. I’ve referred back to it many times myself, and I’m thrilled everytime another beekeeper tells me they love my blog and have learned from it. That’s what it’s all about.
Thank you all for sharing our beekeeping adventure. The journey is far from over!
Merry Christmas (and/or happy holidays) and best wishes for a thriving 2016 beekeeping year!
Paula, the Hubster, and the Bees