Thursday, November 26, 2009


I know that Thanksgiving is an American and Canadian observance, but I wanted to wish everyone who reads this blog the best holiday ever.

As you sit down to the feast today, take a moment to reflect on what you're thankful for. I am thankful for my family, the loves in my life, my good fortunes, and so much more.

And I'm so thankful that I've met some of the nicest people -- all around the world -- who share my new hobby (and love) of beekeeping. You guys rock and I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you today too.

Happy holiday to you and God bless!


PS - I paid a visit to the hive this morning..a DAY visit..and the girls were hard at work..even on a holiday. Pics and the story when I recover from all the food and festivities!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feeding my bees at night! Oh yes, they were wide awake...

Sometimes it seems like there just isn't enough time in the day for me, especially after Labor Day comes. At the television station where I work, we cover lots of fall events, festivals and such. Then once Halloween passes, we go full speed ahead through the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. I will get this coming Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but otherwise, its just a regular work week.

Reidsville, the city where I live, held its annual Christmas parade this past Saturday. I was one of the on-air talents and so I was busy all day getting ready..and had no time to check on my colony. For the past week, I wanted to get down there and check on how they're doing, but one thing or another came up and so I got sidetracked. I also wanted to refill the hive-top feeder which was probably empty.

Of course, the weather was beautiful, albeit cold during the parade, but afterwards.. the rains came. And it has been raining non-stop ever since. This has been the rainiest late summer and fall that I can remember in years, and I guess Mother Nature is making up now for lost time. 

While my girls have a really nice winter store of honey going on in the hive, I'm one of those "what if" people. You know, what if it gets really nasty weatherwise in the next few months? What if I'm not careful and they starve to death? What if this.. what if that? So even though they have lots of honey, I mean packed, my cautious judgement tells me to keep the feed bag on. I think that as long as the temperatures stay fairly warm I will continue to feed them to make sure they're okay. 

So while I was sitting at home tonight (10:30) I had a grand idea! Why not feed my girls tonight? After all, they're all resting and snug inside the hive. The temperature was 48 degrees and it was raining.. so why not run out, throw some syrup in the feeder and come back in the house? It would take all of five minutes and I wouldn't need a veil. So I made some syrup and while it cooled, I headed for the hive with a flashlight. And as I made my way, I thought to myself, surely the guard bees will stay in and not worry about what was making those slight noises outside. They're probably asleep. Right?


I got the hive top off and the inner cover off.. and that's when I could hear the slight buzzing start. As I started pouring the syrup in the feeder and occasionally flashing the light on the reduced entrance, I began to notice one bee come out, then two bees, and then more and more. Apparently feeling the vibrations, they decided to come out and see just what the heck was going on. By this time a fine mist was falling, so I hurried up to get the tops and the brick weights back on. Oh yeah, by the time I got everything back together, a healthy number of curious girls had started piling out of the hive entrance.. and I knew it was time to head for the house. While I knew they wouldn't fly very far from the hive if they flew at all.. I was practically standing just inches from it, so I figured they could possibly get up my pants or up my shirt sleeves, so I said to myself that it was time to go. And I did just that.

I have to admit that I do feel better that I got my girls fed. And I'm glad they'll have something to occupy their time during this nasty weather. But I learned a lesson. Even in colder weather, and even at night, your bees are going to check out those knocks and bumps. So if you're going to feed them or do some work around the hive, please, do it in the daytime. That or be prepared to take off if they decide to come out to take care of the situation!

To all my friends in the States and Canada, a Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finally drying out from rains and floods!

 Take a look at what my area has experienced for the last week. Rain, rain, and more rain! The eastern section of the United States is waterlogged -- all thanks to what was left of tropical storm Ida turning into a nor'easter and pushing non-stop rain here for days. From the Carolinas all the way to the northeast, the region has been absolutely soaked. And tragically, a local woman was killed when a tree fell on her vehicle and crushed her. The tree was within inches of her two-year old son, who was in the back seat, and he somehow survived. Ironically, the first person to find the woman was her husband who was talking to her on the phone when it happened -- he heard it. It is a gut-wrenching story, but just one example of how the weather can have tragic consequences, even in the late fall.

I was able to get out last Sunday, one week ago, to do a brief inspection of my colony. The girls were very docile during the inspection, only a few head-butts, the rest of the time they just flew around. One thing I noticed is that they can't stop building burr comb on the bottom frames of the upper deep. They love to get crazy with their comb building even this late in the season, and so I had to go about cleaning up the frames yet again. The honey that came from the comb was golden and beautiful, and I was tempted to taste it, but I decided to wait until next year. Curiously, I noticed a few of the girls flying into the hive with dark golden pollen in their sacs. I have no clue where they're finding it, but they're bringing it in. To help them out, I put some Mega-Bee pollen substitute on the top frames because I am still giving them winter syrup, so I added some "pollen helper" to the mix.

Overall, the hive looked great. While the boxes are still full of bees, it did seems like the numbers were slightly thinner, and I'm assuming that its the usual winter thinning of the population. Although I didn't see her, her majesty is alive and well because I found capped brood in the bottom chamber. Not as much as before, but she's still laying and rearing.

I expect that will be the last full inspection before spring. I don't see the need of breaking the hive apart at this point since I know they're okay and since the weather is clearing up and they're flying all around on warmer days. The front of the hive was busy yesterday, the reduced entrance was covered and a flurry of girls were coming and going. At this point, just to make sure they'll be okay, I plan to feed until the first hard freeze - which hasn't happened here yet. But I think it is coming soon as we get out of the remnants of hurricane November!

Hope all is well with you and your hives! Talk soon!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Finally, a splash of autumn color at home this year..

This has been a hectic few weeks for me. Between all the fall festivals here and being ask to participate in this event or that event, I just don't always have time to soak up the atmosphere because I'm so busy. 

But my friend Roy Sawyers, who runs a local blog about area events, captured this picture that I wanted to share. It was made a few miles out of town and shows just how vibrant the colors are this year. We haven't had great colors over the last few years because of a drought here in the Triad, but with a wet spring and a fairly steady summer of rain, the colors finally came out full force this season.

Since I missed my annual fall trek to the mountains of North Carolina this year, I don't feel so bad about it with all the fantastic colors I can see in my own area, and right in my own back yard too.

Happy November, everyone!