January 30, 2011

So you think you are helping?

In the middle of December I quickly checked the bees and found that they had consumed almost all the candy feed I had installed in the hives in November. At that time I added more candy assuming that it would be consumed in about a month (January).

 Left:  A dead bee in the snow about 500 feet from the hive.  It is just too cold for them to be flying that far away from home.

With more snow predicted for our area this week, I thought it would be timely to check the hives and add more sugar candy if needed. I made the candy in the morning, let it cool and went to the apiary to install a piece in each hive. Sure enough, the candy feed was gone in most of the hives.

Right:  Looking through the hole in the inner cover you can see the bees are still alive.

With temperatures in the mid 30’s I carefully slipped a piece of candy under each inner cover so as not to disturb the clusters of bees. While I lifted the inner cover I took a peak inside to see how the bees were doing.

Right: Many dead bees after taking a cleansing flight in 35 degree weather.

All the hives seemed to have plenty of bees. I did notice some dysentery spots on the top of the frames in the last hive I checked. I had fed the bees sugar syrup and medicated against nosema in the fall, so I did not think much of it.

This morning I went out to look over the hives. This is what I found.

Left:  a closeup of the mess.

We have had a long spell of cold, probably five or six weeks where the bees have not been able to fly and take cleansing flights.

Apparently having been disturbed by my candy the bees broke cluster and attempted a cleansing flight.

Right:  An even closer look.

Being too cold, many of the bees were not able to return to the hive.

I have included photographs of the resulting mess.

I will have to wait for warmer weather before I can check these two hives to see if any of the hive will survive the rest of the winter.

And I thought I was helping them.

January 26, 2011

Bees And Snow

It is the middle of winter here on Cape Cod. In fact we are getting another snow storm as I write this blog post.

Left:  Icickles hanging from the cover of  the hives.

Already the cold winter has claimed the life of one of our hives. It seems that they starved only inches away from stores of honey and pollen. The weather must have turned cold for too long of a time. The cluster of bees could not move to a new location.

I cleaned out the dead bees and placed the hive bodies in storage. There are 8 frames of honey left in the dead hive along with frames full of pollen. A new package of bees in the spring will take advantage of the hard work done by the deceased hive.

Right:  Bees were flying and still gathering pollen in the middle of November.  They needed all the food they could gather after the bad summer season we had last year.

As I mentioned earlier we are experiencing an unusually snowy and icy winter this year. The snow from one storm turns to ice just before another one hits. Of course we have been fortunate compared to other towns further inland where they have received much more snow. Our deepest accumulation has only been 6 inches or so, compared with feet of snow inland.

The bees have been consuming much bee candy this winter due to the colder temperatures. It was nice to see them flying in December, on the two days temperatures climbed into the 40’s.

I have one nuc hive I am trying to over winter in one hive body that seems to be struggling. It contains one of the queens I raised last summer. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will make it.

Left:  A cluster of bees feeding on bee candy places on the tops of the frames of comb.  This candy will last them about one month.

This time of year I start to get a little stir crazy. I find myself sitting and dreaming about the bees and spring. There is not much beekeeping activities to do other than wait for the new catalogs and the bee journals to come in the mail. Well...  a glass of mead while reading a bee journal isn't all that bad..

What new products will we find and be trying out this season?

There it is again…. As the snow falls….. I’m dreaming of summer!


Peach Pollen

Spring Pollen

Spring Pollen

Queen Cell

Queen Cell
Well Fed Queen Cell

Marked Queen

Marked Queen
Queen produced from my second graft attempt