Monday, December 21, 2009

House cleaning in the sun...and my honey supers are on the way!

So I decided to trek out to see how my bees are faring after Friday night's snow storm that blanketed my area with 8-inches of snow. Even though we're slowly but surely thawing looks like this snow isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And the weather forecasters are calling for the possibility of more snow on Thursday night (Christmas Eve) -- so one way or another, old snow or new snow, we'll have a white Christmas...the first here since 1999.

The closer I got to the hive today, I noticed little dark dots on top of the hard, crunchy snow. They were little dead bee bodies. And the bee bodies were not the ones I scraped out of the hive entrance on Saturday. No, they were some that the housekeepers had brought out of the hive themselves. Some were about six feet from the hive entrance, others a little closer. Obviously the full sun against the hive had warmed the girls enough to where they wanted to do something, to stretch their wings, so house cleaning was the order of the day. I snapped this picture as the bees would come out, check what was going on, then fly off. Obviously they had been working some on Sunday too, removing the dead bees from the hive, because the dead bee bodies were scattered about the yard. I can't wait for the temperature to warm up into the 50s and they can get out and take a break from being stuck inside the hive. 

Great News from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm! My shallow supers and frames are on the way. They're coming by UPS, and the representative told me that she thought they would get here by Wednesday. Brushy Mountain Bee Farm is just on the western side of Winston Salem in Moravian Falls, North Carolina, but I don't have the time to drive there like I can with Dadant and Sons in Chatham, Virginia.

As I've admitted here before, my carpentry skills are horrible. I know it costs more, but I'd rather order some things made and ready to go. So when my package arrives, I'll have six assembled and painted shallow supers. All I'll have to do is put them on the hive and let the girls go to work.

What good are the shallows without frames? So I have 60 already assembled frames coming too. These are what they call the "Super White" frames. The frames are wooden, the foundation is plastic and beeswax coated. Many beekeepers (old school beekeepers) say that plastic foundation frames are worthless and that bees don't like them. I beg to differ. My colony took to plastic foundation frames just fine and drew comb on them in days. So I know they'll do fine with the shallow plastic frames too.

I've heard from a lot of beekeepers that when you set up your honey supers, don't forget the frame spacers -- otherwise you'll end up with a total mess. So I bought a box of 10 spacers. For the life of me, I don't know why I had it in my head that you just space the frames with one spacer. But Brushy Mountain tells me that you put these spacers in the supers after the bees draw out all 10 frames - then you remove one frame - leaving nine - and these spacers will make the distance exact. I learn something new all the time. Anyway, once I figure it all out, I'll get more if needed.

One thing that I plan to do is get another hive body set up (two deeps and a bottom board) in the next few months. I have one in the garage now, but I plan to split my one hive this coming spring, so I want another on stand-by in case I find a swarm somewhere -- or mine decides to it the road. Maybe I'll get the extra hive in February or March.

Just as I said recently, I was hoping that Santa would bring me some beekeeping supplies. And sure enough its going to happen! It has put me in a jolly mood for sure! Ho, ho, ho!


  1. Hey Mark, glad to see the bees are ready for winter. You said no snow since 1999? I'm presuming you don't normally get cold weather then?
    Of course I'm from "The Great White North" so snow is just another 4-letter word :)
    Re the spacers in the honey supers - I think they're set up to only hold 9 frames so if you start with 10, I think you'd have to hold off putting in the spacer until you're ready to go with 9 frames. I bought them too but opted not to use them so I'd have more flexibility with the frames (going with 9 or 10 on the fly...)

  2. Hey Mark - Glad Santa was so kind to you. You're going to be in business come spring. I think the fun really begins the second year as a beekeeper. Maybe it's a confidence thing.

    I still can't get in the garden because the gate is so packed with frozen snow, but the temp has warmed to the low 40's this afternoon and, from the porch, I can see a few bees outside the hives. Looks like the snow is going to hold off for Christmas Eve, but I expect we'll both have a white Christmas because the snow here is not going anywhere. Hope yours is the best ever!




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