Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My worst fears may come true. It may be a long, hard winter!

The news accounts are true; the East coast is absolutely, positively frigid!  As you can see, it was mighty cold here this morning.  When I snapped this picture, the temperature was 13-degrees, but the morning low at sunrise was an icy 11-degrees.  And the weather services are calling for snow and ice here tonight and tomorrow, then another wave of it on Saturday.  It looks like Old Man Winter decided to come calling a little early.

In preparation for the cold snap, I checked my bees over the weekend.  They're no longer taking syrup, so I switched over to feeding them homemade bee candy (the recipe is coming in a future post).  Two of the three hives are fine and I'm sure they'll make it through the winter.  But the third, the lime green hive, I admit I have grave concerns about. 

The temperature on Saturday was 45-degrees as I did the quick inspection, and the bees in the yellow and orange hives met me as I cracked open the tops.  Everything looked fine although they were a little testy.  I'm most sure they wondered who was opening their home in the cold weather.  So I placed candy and pollen substitute on the frames and shut everything up tight so they could settle down.  Plus I didn't want to take too long and allow the cold air to permeate the hives.

But the lime hive, well, that was a different story.  When I opened the hive, I found honey all through the top chamber, but I only saw a few bees...and they were dead.  I looked down through the hive and could see all the way through to the screened bottom board.  And as I put my head down near the top, I could hear buzzing.  Finally in frustration, I took my hive tool and rapped several times really loud on the side of the hive.  That's when a handful of bees came to the top to see what the ruckus was about.  With an uneasy feeling, I put the candy and pollen substitute on the frames and quickly shut it up.  I may be wrong and hope I am, but I have a feeling that may be the last time I hear buzzing coming from this colony.  This has been the weakest hive I own; much weaker that the other two and just slow to build up.  If they are lucky enough to make it through the winter, the first thing I want to do this coming spring is replace the queen.  While she was fine initially, I think she has slowly failed as the year progressed.  And my gut feeling is that if I don't replace her, they'll supersede her on their own.  We'll see what happens.

I'll post the recipe for the bee candy soon.  Its a heck of a lot better than gumming up the hive with the "mountain camp" method...and my bees went right to it.  

Until next time, BEE warm!    


  1. Friend.
    All over the planet is felt enormous and disproportionate waves of cold, here in Portugal is no exception, I have been alert.
    Happy Holidays


  2. Yeah, we got 2-4 inches of the white stuff up here topped off with an ice glaze, nice! Our bees haven't flown for several weeks now that the temps have been so low. Good news is that I'm getting a stethoscope for Xmas. So I'll be able to listen to them at least.

    Sorry to hear about the weak colony. I hope she makes it. These harsh winters are tough on bees & new beeks alike. Good luck & Merry Christmas

  3. Mario: Thanks for your post. May warm days come your way, and happy holidays to you, my friend!

    Hemlock: You'll love a stethoscope! I have one that belonged to my Mother and its great for using on your hives and finding bees in walls too. And thanks for the wishes on my weak colony. I hope they make it too, but if not, then I'll already have drawn comb for a spring split. Good luck to you too and Merry Christmas, buddy!

  4. Thanks for the tip on using a stethoscope! This cold is unbelievable. We are barely into winter and already we have 6 foot mounds of snow in our yard and the temps are more like January temps. I only purchased one hive for my first go around and I'm fearful it won't do well.

    Good luck with your hives, I hope the one that seems to be the weaker finds a way to make it through.

    I look forward to your post on bee candy, as I believe this is something I will need.

  5. I hear you. I really wish my hives were closer because by the time I realize I should do something for them it's usually too late. I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. I feel like I should have wrapped them before the cold weather hit but it's too late now. Hopefully I can check them this Christmas weekend. Looking forward to your recipe on bee candy (I need a good one!)



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