Friday, January 29, 2010

Just when things settle down...more snow is on the way!

As most of you know, the weather here in my area over the last month has been totally rotten. In mid-December we had an unusually heavy snow (8 inches here) and then the first week of this month it was brutally cold for this region. Earlier this week we had flooding all around my area. It even washed part of the creek bank away from behind my house.

And now...we're expecting another torrential snow event within the next 24-48 hours. As I write this, we're under a winter storm warning for around 8+ inches of snow. One local weather forecaster said he was being conservative in his estimate. Oh, and nighttime lows are supposed to be back in the mid-teens this weekend too. When it rains (or snows) pours!

Old man winter is just determined to stick around it seems. Over the last few days the weather was really nice. Even today I noticed people out in shorts and tee shirts as they try to absorb some warmth and put some color to their pasty appearances. But just as things settle down and looks as if we might start down the path to springtime, old man winter taps us on the shoulder and reminds us that he is still here and going nowhere soon.

I figured it was warm enough to get inside my hive and see how the girls were doing with the 2:1 sugar syrup I made for them this week. It was 61 degrees when I looked out the kitchen window at lunch time, and the front of the hive was abuzz with activity so I knew now was the time to check. So I grabbed up my overalls and headed for the hive.

I'm yet to use smoke on my bees when I've checked them lately. I think the last time I used it was October. So far they've been extremely gentle I wish I could manipulate them all year without smoke. I got inside the top of the hive and checked the sugar syrup and was pleasantly surprised that about 3/4 of an inch of syrup was gone. My guess would be about a quart, maybe less. So that indicated to me that they're taking the syrup, plus I could see some of the bees peeking at me through the vent on top of the feeder. Evidently on warmer days, they're able to climb to the top and use the feeder which is great. I definitely felt better knowing that they're doing as I hoped they would.

You can see in the picture to the right (click and it opens in a new window) that my foragers were finding pollen again. Some of it was a really bright orange and some was a light gray color. It seemed that they were bringing in more pollen a couple weeks ago when I checked them, but I didn't watch them all day, so maybe they had started early and continued past the time I went inside the house. 

I decided to experiment and see if my bees would take some moist cane sugar or some Mega Bee if I placed it just outside the hive. Since they really take the Mega Bee when I spread it across the frames, I figured they may take it here too.

Guess what? Not one single bee took the bait. Not one bee tried the sugar...and only one walked through the Mega Bee (she actually landed in it) and it looked like she was irritated because she got dusty. But I left it there and will check it again to see if I can determine if any is missing. And I'll definitely get it up before the snow storm sets in. Maybe I should try it again when spring comes and stays. 

I'll make more pictures when the storm gets here so you can share in the glory we call an unusual Piedmont-Triad area, North Carolina, winter. Hopefully a very short winter.

Bee safe!

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