Tuesday, December 1, 2009

These girls don't know the meaning of a holiday...

Thanksgiving is a day of rest for many. A day of over-indulging in all sorts of rich foods, parades, movies, football - and then dozing after all that fun. I'm no exception to that rule, after all, who am I to turn down my own generous helping(s) of my Mom's turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce? 

The one common denominator for many on Thanksgiving is that its a day off from work. Some people get the one day off and many turn it into a long holiday weekend. But whichever it may be, usually very little work gets accomplished during this time.

Not for the honey bee!

Oh no, not my girls. As you can see in the picture above, the early morning of Thanksgiving, the temperature was still in the low 40s and the girls decided to sleep in some. But take a look at the picture on the left and you can see that by 11:00am, the temperature was up into the low 50s and the hive was wide awake. There was a flurry of activity, the traffic coming and going from the reduced entrance was constant, and lots of buzzing all around the hive. While I stood there to make the pictures, a few of the girls flew around me to check me out..but otherwise I guess they were too excited to take advantage of the warm, dry weather. 

The one thing I noticed is that amid all this buzz of activity, quite a few of the girls were bringing in lots of pollen. It seemed that over half of the incoming foragers had varying amounts of golden yellow pollen in their leg sacs, a darkish yellow, and when they landed, they would scurry inside the entrance. Then some would exit, flying up and around, and take off. I'm not all that wise on flowers, but I have seen pansies and other wintering flowers out in full force now, so maybe that's where they're getting it from. I'm lucky that many of my neighbors work hard to landscape their yards with flowering plant, so my bees found a treasure of pollen somewhere close by. Although I've sprinkled some pollen substitute across the frames of my hive, it looks like my busy bees decided to find their own -- and they're doing a darn good job of it too.

Side note: My brother told me that he's noticed more honeybees at his house this year that ever before. He lives about a half mile from me and said he believes they're my girls. I have no clue if that's true or not but I've had several people stop when they see me working my hive (remember I'm within seeing distance of the city's scenic walkway) to thank me for putting a hive in my yard. They're hopeful that my current girls (and a new hive coming this spring) will make their gardens more fruitful than ever. I hope my bees won't disappoint -- many people have great expectations from them this coming year!

I've been asked what I would like for gifts this year. First and foremost: shallow honey supers! I get the oddest looks when I say that I want honey supers and frames for gifts...but think about it. What else could a beekeeper want...or need...especially when its something that will be nothing but an asset? This year -- I hope Santa brings shallow supers from Brushy Mountain.

Dear Santa, don't you let me down!


  1. Wow, Mark! That was my reaction on seeing your girls out and about. Looks to me like you've got a good, strong colony going into winter. I don't think they'll disappoint you or your neighbors come spring.

    I knew I was definitely hooked when I started asking for beekeeping stuff instead of shiney things for Christmas. Hope you are well. Lynn

  2. Isn't it nice that your neighbours are so encouraging? It's great that they have a keen interest in horticultural matters. Glad to see that you're still getting time to keep an eye on things.

  3. Hey Lynn: I do think they're going into winter full force. Last time I went into the hive weeks ago, it was bustling with activity inside, so I know they're going to overwinter well. And you're right, I'm definitely hooked since I'm asking for beekeeping supplies instead of other things. Course, I'm getting a Tom-Tom too! Unlike the bees who can find their ways where they need to go, I sometimes need a little help!

    Cliff: I have great neighbors. All summer long I would have some people, walking down the scenic walkway, just stop and watch, and some would speak. One woman said she lives blocks away and has a large garden and was excited that some honeybees were closer than ever now. Maybe it will be even better this spring when I split this hive and have two. Even my next-door neighbor, who was reluctant at first, said that her flowers looked better this past summer and that my bees were all in her yard and never bothered her once. I'm really lucky!

  4. I enjoyed your post. I too was surprised to see my bees bringing back pollen. A fellow beek said it is probably dandelions that are in bloom.
    Since the bees go in about a 5 mile radius, your brother is most likely right that your bees visited his place.
    I'm so glad to hear your neighbours are being positive about it.

  5. After those warm temps in November, we're in the cold now, and it looks like the bees will be hunkered down for the duration. I tightened everything up a bit for them, but it looks like I lost my nuc hive. They were struggling and since we had a cool, wet September and October I just couldn't feed them enough. Hopefully the other hives will make it okay.

  6. Thanks for posting your blog! I too am a first year beekeeper with 2 hives. I love reading others' experiences. My hives have been hunkered down for quite a while now (just finished a week of -20 degree temps). I also am hoping for some beekeeping supplies for Christmas. Good luck!

  7. Mark isn't it just so neat to keep and maintain such interesting, intriguing creatures. They are unique and with that bring an awe-inspiring feel to the yard of the beekeeper.

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    Eastern NC



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