Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bees of hope...

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the polar vortex up and left.
My man knew I was worried about my bees and the extreme cold.

He sent me this text
on that warm balmy day On January 13 when the temperature
crept up to 43 degrees.

I thought phew! We made it through.  Smooth sailing to spring thinking
we would not see temps that cold again. Well...think again.
It is freezing AGAIN.  Temps in the single digits.

I saw our state bee inspector(Ken) tonight at a lecture he gave at my kid's school.
We are very lucky that he lives a town over from us and is 
always very available for any help or mentoring.
He keeps hives near my house and I have been able to go check his hives with him.  
Just a wealth of information.
He has over 60 years experience keeping bees.
He has worked on the Harvard Bee Study, 
the USDA Bee Study and the NASA Bee Study.
It is fascinating to hear about the studies he is involved in.

When I started my hive last spring he told me to take some advice that new
beekeepers don't want to hear.  He told me to use 3 deep hive boxes.  
Rather than two deeps followed by a honey super.
The trick he explained will give me another deep box of frames with drawn our 
comb for expanding to a new hive.  Or if I have a swarm and I am lucky enough to catch it, I will have drawn frame all ready for a queen to lay eggs in.  
Drawn out deep frames are like gold.  Just think about the jump start a new hive will have with a few frames already fully drawn out and ready for the queen to lay her eggs in.
The trade off...as always things come with a trade off and that meant 
no honey harvest for me this year.
I left it all in the hive.  I actually had to spin out some frames in the fall.  We had a crazy
nectar flow in September and my hive became honey bound.  I was able to spin out the nectar and freeze it.  Then after the nectar flow stopped, 
I fed it back to them and they were very happy.

I am worried about my hive and honey stores with this cold.
The bees need energy to heat the cluster and 
that means they are eating a lot of their honey.
 I worried about going into my hive in this cold.  
Ken told me to get in there and to check for honey stores.
I know what I am looking for.  If the cluster is still low in the hive I still have honey as they will work their way up.
If the bees are high up in the hive, get a sugar patty in there.
I was a little overwhelmed with the things I was reading about sugar boards people make.  
It just seems complicated!
Ken assured me that they are not necessary, just make a sugar patty and that way I can get it closer to the cluster.  I have a spacer I can use if I need to so there will be clearance for the  sugar patty.

Mission this weekend...Get into that hive!
I will let you know how it all goes.

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