hive check – “dewinterizing”

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At midday today, I opened my second hive, my remaining live hive. The bees were very active, bringing in lots of yellow and orange pollen. I see a few scattered crocuses around in my yard, but I bet they’ve found another yard with many early spring crocuses and snowdrops. Today is warm. 70F in the shade, but my thermometer is showing 94F on the sunny stone patio. Sunny and beautiful. It’s the first really amazing spring day. My bees have been a bit active in previous weeks, but now they…
 

more honey

 
 
Yesterday I bottled 10 pints, 15 lbs, of honey for us to eat. It’s spicy and sweet, medium amber. Really good. I think better than my September batch of honey, which was collected in a super and probably all Pepperbush honey. Pepperbush, a white flowered shrub, was in full bloom around the pond in August and September. It gives a floral, very mild honey. I took this new honey from frames throughout the hive, so it’s a mix of flower nectars collected throughout the season. Beautybush, Silverbell, Black locust, apple,…
 

dismantling my dead hive

 
 
Greg wrote to me Monday to say he was sorry I lost a hive. He said, “I’ve been told this is the riskiest part of the winter because brood is expanding and the overall population may still be declining. That means there is more brood to protect and keep warm during very cold spells.” Greg also mentioned the tarps I put on my hives during the recent cold snap, saying that moisture in an airtight hive can be more deadly to bees than cold. Well, I was very sad to…
 

hive check – one’s alive, one’s dead

 
 
It’s been 3 weeks since I checked my hives and moved them. The weak hive is dead. No live bees, though lots of honey. The top box seems like about 50 lbs. My stronger hive is doing well. Maybe even more bees than last check. At least similar numbers. I checked it without gloves, face netting, or hive tools, so I didn’t look too long. I’m glad they survived our brutally cold (-12 F) and windy (gusts to 30 mph) night. I will work on wrapping up and securing the…
 

bee hives wrapped for cold

 
 
I wasn’t planning to wrap my bee hives. At my bee club people usually just add insulation to the top, which I did back in November. But this is way colder than we’re used to! Predictions for tonight are 5 to 15 below 0 F (-20 to -26 C) with a gusty wind to 35 mph. So I wrapped both hives in a tarp. At least this will cut down any drafts getting in the openings. As I was wrapping them, I noticed a big pile dead bees next to…
 

bee photos

 
 
Here are pictures of my bees that I took yesterday. This is the top box of the smaller and larger colonies: And a close-up: Here’s the new sunny location of the hives behind my vegetable garden.
 

mid-winter hive check

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I was wondering about my bees today and so I dropped an email to Tony at my local bee club and asked if I should be checking them in the winter. The answer was “Yes, I should”. But not like a summer inspection. Tony recommended suiting up, but no smoker. He said to lift hives from the back to check their weight. If light, they’ve used up their winter honey stores. Finally, he said, lift the cover and check the location of the bees and if they’re alive. If they’re…
 

bee hives in winter cold

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My bee hives are dwarfed by the long winter shadows. I’m wondering how the bees are doing. We’ve had a couple weeks of temperatures in the 20’s and below. What a difference a month has made! At the end of December my bees were out pollinating hellebore. I prepared my hives for winter back in October by installing mouse guards, adding a piece of ceiling tile to insulate the top, and making sure my top entrance was available to the bees. I don’t have entrance reducers on, but I do…
 

Christmas Day – honey bees on hellebores

 
 
Last week the hellebore has been blooming gloriously in the misty unusually warm New England weather. Today the sun broke out. I saw my bees were out foraging. Hard to believe on the last week of the year! I found some, collecting hellebore nectar. The hive entrance was pretty active with three or 4 bees passing in and out at any one time. I didn’t see any bees foraging around the pond on our afternoon boat ride. Of course – there are no flowers there. The only flowers around now…
 

a very warm Christmas!

 
 
My bees are out and about at the end of December! 61F now, and yesterday was a high of 68F. I don’t know if this is good for them. There are no flowers. I suppose they can get a drink and stretch their wings then go back to their honey stores.
 
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