Thursday, December 30, 2010

First warm day in ages.

It's been cold for so long I can't remember when it was last warm enough for the bees to be out. But they were today! Both hives are active and busy cleaning out the dead bees. Good news, but I think I better start planning on how to deal with two over wintered hives. Maybe I'll try a top bar hive?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Bees are different…

So Winter Bees are different.  Here’s a nice article and explanation of this, courtesy of West Mountain Apiary.  Winter Bees have a different blood protein profile and fatter bodies to Summer Bees and are reared in the fall as number of bees reduces in the hive.

Here too are some pretty cool infrared photographs of some hives in winter.

How do honey bees survive winter?

It seems topical given the cold weather we have at the moment, and it should help me to answer the single most popular question I get asked at this time of year. Follow this link to Kim Flottum’s article in The Daily Green.

I need to do some more research on this, but I understand that honey bees slow their metabolism down over winter and that helps them to survive for longer without having to rear brood. What this means is that in the depths of winter the hive doesn’t need to be as warm as 93F; a suitable brood rearing temperature.

I don't expect my girls to rear any brood in December through to mid to late February. That's about 10 weeks (70 days).  Normally a worker bee lives for about 7 weeks (42 days).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A freezing cold day!

It's now freezing!! The overnight temperature is expected to be -14C (7F).  It's blowing a gale (50 mph gusts), and the wind-chill is an incomprehensible -20C (-4F)!  It's cold enough inside by the fire, let alone being outside in a wooden box!  I hope my girls are OK!!!

This afternoon was cold too and here are a couple of photos!  I'm not planning to clear the entrance to the hives just yet, but I am worried that leaving a screened bottom board in place was the right thing to do? I supose only time will tell on that one!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A warm day.

After a period of some pretty cold weather it warmed up today - but it will be only for today if you believe the weather forcasters!  It reached about 10C (50F).  So my bees were out taking advantage of the warm temperatures; they were on cleansing flights, removing debris and dead bodies from the hives etc.

I say hives, but actually there was really only activity in the smaller hive (the one that had the SHB problem in the summer).  The larger hive didn't have much going on at all.  I was concerned enough to crack open the hive and look inside, and I did see some bees; I didn't want to take too close a look as I didn't want the hive to cool down inside. So, am I worried?  Well perhaps a bit, but there is nothing I can do if the hive dies off.  So I'll just have to sit tight and wait it out.

I'm still wondering if my hives are in the best position.  Susan's hive gets some direct sunlight in the winter (mine don't get any) and there was quite a lot of activity at her hive!  Perhaps I would have been better off placing them so that they would have been in the winter sunshine - perhaps next year!