Friday, February 8, 2013

How Did My Bees Come Through The Winter?

It's been a while since I've made a post regarding my hives. That's because there really isn't much to comment on once they hunker down for the winter. Now that spring is creeping up on us the bees are out more and more. There really isn't anything blooming yet but they like to get out of the hive to scout around, stretch their wings and have potty flights. They don't poop in their hive if they can help it and they can hold their waste for quite a long time. You may recall I now have 2 hives. One Italian and one Carniolan. The Carniolan hive is in the prime spot. It gets more sun and they have come through the winter very strong. The poor Italian hive is in the shade of my apple tree and doesn't get the same amount of sun. They have not done well this winter. Once the weather got warm enough for them to come out and fly they managed to poop all over the front of their hive. They also seem to have more dead bees out in front of the hive. I am worried that they are sick but it is still too cold for me to open the hive and look  around. I am hoping to get in there this coming Sunday if it is warm enough. I'm going to make them some bee candy, too. Probably wouldn't hurt to stick a pollen patty in there, as well. Today it was 43 degrees and the Carniolan hive was out flying so I set a sugar syrup feeder out on a table, between the hives, to see what would happen. As you can see, the Carniolans were all over it.

I had heard that bees do not take syrup if it is under 50 degrees. That does not appear to be true. Or maybe the bees missed that memo. Unfortunately the Italian hive was not as enthusiastic, even though I set a second feeder out very close to their hive. The feeder has bees at it, but I think they are also Carniolans. The Italians just aren't doing much. You can see how dirty the front of their hive is. I did go out this morning and wipe it down with a wet rag. If you notice me leave rather hastily it is because I had curious bees landing on me. I think they liked my purple hoodie.

I will keep you updated as to their condition once I have a chance to crack the hives and see what is going on inside. I need a nice day with a temperature of at least 50 degrees and no wind. I have chosen to be an organic beekeeper which means I do not medicate my bees. We had a master beekeeper from Cheney, WA. speak at our last club meeting. Ho, too, is into chemical free beekeeping and has not lost a hive in 3 years. He uses essential oils and other organic means of keeping his bees healthy. Luckily he has written a book on the subject, including his recipes. I've ordered the book and should receive it soon. 

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