It’s nearing that time of the year, where we lost our bees last winter. They were doing so good all winter and than warm days in February came around and we lost them. At first we couldn’t believe what had happened, they were doing good a week prior.
After spring came and we were able to tear apart the hives and actually investigate, we came to the assumption that they had starved. Entirely our fault, we harvested too much the summer before, expecting them to produce more honey but they did not do as we thought. Sometimes that depends on the weather, the flowers and even the temperatures outside.
I tell people every time they ask about our bees and how they are doing and not doing, I always tell them that this is trial and error learning experience for us. What works for some people does not work for everyone. Town vs. Country, there is a difference in the moisture in the air which can make a huge difference in the winter months. Some people live in windier areas than others, that also makes a difference in the winter. We are learning though and we are fairly certain we are on the right track, but we wont know for sure until its 60 Degrees out every day and they are still there. Only time will tell.
What Have You Noticed So Far?
Because we have had a couple of warmer days and when I say warmer, I’m talking 30-40 degree days in February (To us Northerners, that’s warm) we have had the chance to check the hives quickly. This is really just, lift the lid and make sure theyre still clustered as they should be. Check their sugar fondant that we put in at the beginning of winter and see how they’re doing.
When I checked the fondant this last week (February 15th) it was getting low. I have made this fondant in the past, but this year we chose to buy some that had some extra nutrients in it, to help them stay strong. But because it was low and we have another warm day (February 20th) we chose to purchase some more feed for them. They did not have the fondant this time, so we got winter patties.
Winter Patties are another type of food source, for the bees if they find their actual harvested food empty. Because it is cold, we cannot take them apart to see up close what their harvest source is like, so we are going to throw a winter patty in each hive for now.
When it gets warmer, they move around more, which just like humans tends to lead to eating more. We also don’t want them to get too excited too early, or they will start creating more bees (brood) which also leads to more food being eaten. We want to keep them at a slow pace until it is warm outside and they can collect their own food sources from plants outside.
On February 15th when it was warm (30 Degrees) we did our normal tap on the boxes and make sure they’re making noise in there. They were making noise as well as flying outside. I know crazy, its only 30 Degrees and they’re flying outside. However, they don’t typically make it far because they get cold, obviously.
Although, its 30 Degrees outside, but if you put your hand inside the shavings box on the top, you can feel heat radiating up. So they do a very good job at keeping themselves warm, so when the sun hits them, they tend to come flying out.
Flying out of the hive at this time, is not necessarily a bad thing as they have to do what they call their “cleansing flight”. They store all their feces for weeks until the outside air is warm enough for them to take a quick “cleansing flight”. So as you can see, the outside of their hive is covered in this yellow “liquid”. This same liquid will get on our vehicles in the driveway in the summer, when they’re flying around.
They like to keep their homes as clean as possible, so when it gets warm enough out, they clean up everything inside and they drop it outside. They will also drag the bees that did not survive, out of the entrance and drop them on the ground. There are times when its snowed and cold that we have to go clear their entrance because they have dropped so many dead ones out, that they cannot get out of the entrance anymore.
I know this looks really gross, we will brush these off and than come spring the bees will end up the ground and get mixed in with the lawn cuttings.
What Do You Expect From Here ?
Now that we have fed them and made it this far, we will continue to check on them during the warmer days. We will make sure they still have a food source and that their shavings in the top boxes are staying dry. As long as they stay fed and their top box stays dry, we really think we will do okay.
Once spring comes, we will have to run a Mite Treatment through the hive, to try and prevent them from dying of mites. We can talk more on that, when the time comes. But be sure to stay tuned to see what else we might be up too and how they are doing.
I truly love sharing with everyone and sort-of teaching people how this all works. I am amazed at how interested people are and how little people honestly know about Honey Bees. If you have children, I highly recommend looking into a basic book about Honey Bees and educating your children on the importance of them and what it is they do for us. There are plenty of sources out there to learn and we can always learn new things!
Thanks for reading this far!! We love hearing your thoughts, drop some comments or share with your friends!!
Much Love & Honey,
Megan & Mark
The Beekeeper and His Lady