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Winter Beekeeping

Pakis has been keeping a close eye on the bees, especially on the days when the temperature got above 45 degrees.  That’s when the bees go out flying.  They drag their dead brethren out of the hive, they orient themselves with figure eights, they expel waste, and they even find pollen to bring back.  We have ordered a new package of bees that will arrive sometime next month, so we’re gathering supplies and preparing a new hive.
On Valentine’s Day we needed to move the current hive to a newly created platform, and it was heavy enough that I was afraid to try lifting it. A neighbor graciously agreed to help with the move.

Thriving hive 2-22-15

First day of flying from new home

 

After Valentine’s Day, it stayed cold for a whole wee Finally today the bees could get out again–it was good flying weather.  The picture shows happy bees getting oriented to their new home.

 

Sadly, there was no activity at all today at the hive of our neighbor, Jennifer.  She got her bees at the same time as ours, and all last summer, hers seemed to be more industrious than ours.  She bought a honey extractor and was able to harvest an entire super (10 frames, about 20 quarts of honey), while we just got a couple of frames’ worth dripping in our kitchen.  We jokingly complained that we somehow got the lazy bees.

A couple of weeks ago, Pakis started noticing less activity in Jennifer’s hive than ours, and today there was none at all.  They opened the hive to find a great honey supply and a large cluster of dead bees.  Even the queen, with her neon green back, was dead.  We all knew the recent cold snap could be treacherous, but it was crushing to see its effects up close.

Dave Fruchtenicht is our local professional and all-around beekeeping guru.  Pakis called him and he came right over to look at the situation.  It’s likely the bees got too cold and couldn’t move to the honey supply.  There was mold in the hive, too, giving evidence of moisture.  But why should this hive die when ours didn’t?  Beekeeping seems to be a mix of guesswork and knowledge.

examining the hive

Post mortem with bee guru Dave Fruchtenicht

 

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Categories: Beekeeping
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