March 15, 2011

Middle Of March

It’s the middle of March and the snow drops are just starting to pop open here on Cape Cod.  Spring is just around the corner!

After enduring a long cold winter, mice, mites, small hive beetles, starvation, falling trees, and poor food stores, the bees are just now beginning to emerge from their winter cluster.

:Left:  Small Hive Beetle, dead on the sticky board.

          In March?  Realy?

The queen should have started raising young by now, and the new bees will be taking fights for the first time. How many of them emerge fly a little too far from the hive and become too chilled to make it back home?

Right:  Bees were finally able to take flight during warmer days here and there over the past couple of weeks.

We lost 50 percent of our hives to this long winter. We did not receive our January thaw as we do most years. Temperatures remained in the 30's for six weeks or more.  But then, I don't have to tell most of you that!

Of the remaining hives two are very weak. The Kona queens I introduced last year seam to be longing to return to the warm Hawaiian weather they came from.

They did not do well here.

Of course they have done better than the dead hives… That’s it… Look on the bright side!

Left:  My storage shed.... Filled with beekeeping equipment, boxes, frames.....  And mice!

One hive that started the winter with plenty of bees, frames of pollen, and frames full of honey was found dead a couple of weeks ago.

I had given them candy feed towards the end of January.

At that time they were robust…. 7 frames of bees. When I dissected the dead hive I found thousands of dead bees only two inches away from capped honey. There were still 6 frames of capped honey in the hive and three frames full of pollen. Why did they die? During the cold weather they probably just could not shift over to the food stores. What a shame!

Right:  The mice are so bold as to build nests in plain sight!

Sometimes you cannot figure out what went wrong. Is it natural selection? Or just a stupid beekeeper?

But yes…. As beekeepers often do, I spend a lot of my time during the winter thinking and dreaming about the bees. Perhaps answers come during those long months. I do have something up my sleeve… Perhaps I can do something about the weather!

The mice have been taunting me all winter as well. Despite my best attempts at thwarting them I continue to find chewed items around the storage shed. They love the newspaper wrapped wax foundation. An expensive item to snack on.

Right:  Outside temperature 34 degrees....  Inside temperature 60.

Perhaps I've found a way to control the weather!

One family even had the nerve to build a home right in plain sight, as if to dare me to try to do something about it!

But bright days are ahead! The weather is warming. The days are getting longer. The first flowers are poking there sleepy heads above the ground. The bees are starting to fly…

Yes the bees are starting to fly!


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