Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winterizing the bees

Winter is here! Like, today is officially the first day of winter. I guess that means I’m on vacation from farming. Let me just put my feet up…oh wait. We’re still taking care of the animals but I can put my feet up from gardening, I’m not growing anything this winter.

The one thing I really needed to get done was winterizing the bees. They are comfy and snug in their little box home under a large pine tree. I wrapped them up a few weeks ago but I’m just getting to posting this for your entertainment. December is a bit crazy in our house. Really, it’s probably crazy for everyone but we have a birthday thrown in for good measure. So, it gives us even more to celebrate.

At the store I had this huge piece of hard insulation that I was walking around with. Not only was it awkward to walk with but the wind was really picking up. As I walked out of the store to my car it was like I was carring a large sail through the parking lot. Some passer-by helped me get to my car instead of winding up in OZ. When I got home I immediately put the insulation around the hive. The temperature was at 60 but the wind was blowing me all over the place and there were dark clouds just north of here, signaling a rapid change in weather.

Not the most glamorous insulation job, but, hey, it works.

After I sailed home with the insulation, I measured and cut pieces to go around the hive. Then I used duct tape to put them on and a little twine to keep it all in place.

Cool fact about bees: one of the reasons they survive through the winter is because they don’t go out when it’s under a certain temperature. If they do, they are sluggish and will die. I’ve heard that when Africanized bees or the killer bees come here, they die during the cold winter because they don’t have the natural instinct to stay in when it’s under 50.

These bees had a little trouble getting established. I actually think the queen died because we couldn’t find any brood. We eventually asked our neighbor if we could get a few frames of brood from him. It’s awesome to have other beekeepers just over the fence. I still have so many questions. But the extra frames helped and it seems they turned one of those brood into a queen because they seem to be doing great and I wanted to keep it that way, so that’s why I was rushing around trying to get them set up for the winter.

Well, they almost got forgotten but just before the first snow I got them bundled up in insulation. We didn’t take any honey from them this year. If they get stronger as a hive I may take some next year, we’ll see how they do. I’ll still feed them as we get further into the winter but since I didn’t take any honey from them, I think they have enough for now. I’m hopeful there will be another warmish day so I can put some fondant or bee candy  in the hive for them. Until then at least I know they are healthy, they have food, and warmth and a safe place to stay for the winter.


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