honeybee on winter witch hazel blooms

My honey bees are out and about today. Its a crazy odd February. Down to -15F once, and then so many balmy 60F days. Bees like to get out and poop in warm winter weather but there isn’t much food for them. This winter hazel in bloom in my backyard is one of few pollen and nectar sources. I planted it last fall and I’m so happy to see it in bloom!

tending winter honeybees

My honeybee hives are heavily insulated for winter. On the choice of ventilation versus insulation for bee hives, I have been going with heavy insulation. I have one larger old hive that is going through its third winter now, with its second queen. And I have a smaller hive on its first winter. A friend and I opened both today to inspect. Both were fed 4 lbs sugar brick and 2 lbs fondant in November. In the smaller hive, the colony is right up at the top next to the…

a new package of honeybees

  A week and a half ago, Monday, I installed a package of bees in my backyard. I didn’t have honeybees last year, but I missed them buzzing around my vegetable garden. Every year I install the bees wrong, no different this year. The queen comes in a little cage with a candy plug that take the other bees a day or two to chew through and release her. By that time, they are used to each other. My version this year was to accidentally crush the little cage while…

my honey bee order is in

I just ordered a package of bees for April 17. I didn’t keep any honey bees last year and I missed having all those pollinators in the vegetable garden. It’s nice to think ahead to spring before winter even starts.

My new bees are happy in their new home! Today was a beautiful day for them. I put most of my seedlings out on the patio to get some sun and fresh air. I up-potted 60 tomato seedlings last night and they were outside too. I opened up my winter tunnels to the nice spring air and am thinking I may not need to cover them up much more this season. They are looking really nice. (I’ll add pictures here this weekend.)

honey bees

I picked up a package of bees today. Both of my hives died early last winter – it was a very hard fall/winter for bees here. I have heard that the overwintering rate in our area for experienced bee keepers was about 20%. One out of 5 hives survived. I almost decided it wasn’t worth keeping bees and if I have to buy new ones every year, but I went ahead and got one hive anyway. They are not off to a good start. Tonight will be very cold and…

preparing for winter

I’m in the process of preparing my honeybee hives for winter. I have two hives on the far side of my vegetable garden nearest the pond. They’re on the northeast side of the yard with a southwest exposure. Both were packages I installed in early April, since both my hives died early last winter. One hive is much stronger than the other. The strong one has about 70 lbs of honey, while the weak one about 30-40 lbs. I’m guessing here from lifting the boxes. This is what I’ve done…

me and my new bees

Actually, it’s not so easy to get a selfie with a new bee package. iPhone’s don’t work so well wearing leather bee gloves. But the bees did pose well I thought. They are very sweet bees. Once they take up residence and start protecting their hive, I won’t do selfies with them.

getting ready for bees

I’ll pick up two packages of bees tomorrow. They’ll replace the two hives I lost this past winter. The boxes are now set up and waiting now. I filled both boxes with nine draw-out frames each with a good amount of honey in them. I’ll also feed the bees sugar water in a frame feeder since I don’t know what’s blooming near me now. I think the maples and willows may be, but not sure.

I lost both my hives 🙁

🙁 The boxes of both my hives are now empty and stacked crosswise. I was sad to see so many bees die. I’m guessing they died from dripping condensation as I saw water droplets in the hive when I opened it. I noticed bees begin to die in November, just after it got cold. They fell from the hive in huge numbers. Mostly they couldn’t get cleaned out through the mouse guard, so they accumulated on the floor of the hive and I brushed them out. Both hives. I knew…