Today, looking inside, we were pleased to learn that while we have lost a few colonies, several colonies are alive and thriving.
The most important thing I learned today was that winter bees do not have the same disposition as fall bees. If any of you have ever seen Michael and I at the bee yard, you will know that I am always covered head to toe in my protective bee gear. Michael almost never even wears a veil. He gets stung fairly regularly but takes it in stride.
Today when we arrived he regretfully mentioned that he’d forgotten his veil at home. I was surprised. When we fed the bees in the fall, even I stopped donning my protective gear as it was cold, and the bees were generally too busy getting ready for winter to bother with us.
Luckily for me, Michael insisted. He said he’d taken a beating when he checked his home hives only two days before. So we grabbed some extra veils from the shed. Sure enough, we removed that first inner cover and those bees made it clear that they were not at all interested in entertaining guests. Their attitude didn’t change much when we started giving them sugar either.
Regardless of their ill temper, I know in time they’ll be pleased that we stopped by. I knowI was. One hive, we hadn’t fed all year because it was FULL of honey. Today it still had some weight to it but it was significantly lighter. We added some sugar for the first time, just in case they needed a little help to make it through.
Another hive we caught just in the nick of time. They only had a tiny bit of food left. Had we waited til Saturday, which had a higher forecasted temperature, we might have been too late.
So this month’s tips are:
- Wear your veil in the winter, you’ll be glad you did!
- Don’t wait for a super-warm day to check your bees. They can recover from a few minutes of cold temperatures, but they won’t recover from starvation.
If you’re wondering what happened to our hives that didn’t make it, be sure to attend our upcoming CSI: Dead Out Workshop. Date and details coming soon.