Saturday, January 6, 2018

Blew the Top Off!

As we drove around the back, I commented that the snow looked heavy enough to knock the hive over. Then, I saw that it may have! Not the first hive with the cubic yard of snow teetering on its lid, but rather the fourth hive had lost its lid. With the mission to check and save the bees in mind, I gathered some supplies and finished “winterizing” them... Which I should have done back in November...

I trekked over to the hive and checked the area for prints; nada. The bees were buzzing mad, but it’s too cold to fly far. Thankfully, it was just the feeder tray and lid that had come off. I set a piece of newspaper over the hole and a fresh medium box on the inner cover. I poured a good pound or more of sugar into the new attic space. The sugar should absorb the excess moisture and become extra feed for the bees, if they’re short on honey. The feeder tray had been very wet, and with this week above freezing, I don’t want to risk extra moisture dripping on the bees. A wet or cold bee is very quickly a dead bee.

Once the lid was in place, I checked the other hives and installed attics from empty boxes. In the neighboring buzzing colony, the bees were right against the inner cover! The last hive in the line was a dead out; it had been a mid summer experiment and just didn’t have time to build up once the dry season killed off the nectar. The dead bees looked normal, just too few to survive winter. If there had been signs of disease, it wouldn’t be safe for the bees to share the honey with the hungry colony. The two boxes of honey went onto the hive in need. I hope it helps them build up quickly and healthy in the spring!

The larger hives didn’t make themselves heard. I’m not worried at this point, as last year I was convinced I’d lost my quiet overwintered hive, but it made it through. It seems the Carniolan breed of bee is usually quieter in winter. My noisy ones today may have only been complaining about the cold. I hope they make it through winter and have a strong start in spring!

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