What are the bees up to?

The nights are very cold. In our neighborhood we have our own microclimate and our backyard even more so. Our temperature here is regularly several degrees colder than is listed for the area on weather.com. The temperature in our backyard is even lower, so we can assume that it’s about 7-8 degrees colder and sometimes more.

During the final hive inspection I moved all empty frames out of the hives and only left partially filled ones or completely full frames of honey. Not 4 or 5 days later, it snowed. In Maryland, in October. Those living in Maryland can appreciate the shock I was in all day. I just kept saying to my husband “I can’t believe it’s snowing in Maryland in October.” We received about 3 inches or so, and one of the farmers at the market who lives in PA, just over the border, got 16″!! My mom said it was a total white-out in NYC.

It was very cold for several days but since then it has been in the 50’s to low 60’s during the day and pretty much freezing at night. The bees cluster together and keep themselves and the queen warm when it’s cold. But if it’s in the 50’s and sunny, they’ll be flying. To help them along I kept feeding them sugar syrup (one quart jar in each hive) and the bucket feeder with sticks in it. They will either store it or use for energy now. I have read that you don’t want to have a warm Fall because the bees keep flying and they consume a lot of honey to fuel the flights. If they consume the honey but can’t replace it because winter is coming on and flowers have essentially stopped blooming, then they eat through their stores and won’t have enough to survive the winter. If it gets cold on time or early, the bees will cluster, not fly, and will only eat as much as needed to keep the temp around the queen in the mid-90’s. As long as it’s in the 50’s during the day, I’ll keep that bucket feeder out.

I installed mouse guards over the entrances:

This is number 8 hardware cloth, stapled around the entrance reducer.

The entrance reducer alone will not keep out mice. Mice like to overwinter in bee hives because it’s warm and sheltered. Since we have some that like to build nests out of our grill cover and nest in the grill burner, I figured mouse guards would be needed. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime so the entrance reducer was not going to work without help.

One problem I didn’t anticipate was disposal of dead bees. At first the bodies were kind of lined up inside the mesh as if the mortician bees had given up. But then I noticed a bee actually pulling one through the mesh and realized they would be okay, the entrance wouldn’t get clogged. I checked today and it was all clear.

Deer casualty?

I noticed the bucket feeder was tipped over, don’t know if there was any syrup in it when that happened but the bees were still all over it today even though it was empty and dry. I noticed this:

A buck rubbing?

The above picture may be from a buck rubbing his antlers, we’ve had that happen to the peach trees too. He probably did this and then came over to bucket either to check it out or try to rub his antlers. Who knows. We get quite a few deer, hawks, foxes, etc. I even saw a peahen one day, she came to visit and slept in one of our trees and then left at 7am the next morning.

There won’t be much bee news now. I’ll keep you posted about the temp, feeding and whether they’re flying or not.

I’m also going to post about the garden and the chickens, and oh yes, the failed fondant (after I take pictures).



  1. Here in WI we had a mild Fall. At first we were worried because after a few mild but rainy days, it looked like they were eating quite a bit of their winter stores. But then they must have realized it was getting colder because they really filled a lot of bars up with nectar and capped honey (we have a top-bar hive). Best of luck to your ladies through the winter!

    • Hi Bethel, thanks for reading. The Fall here is still in the 60’s in the day and below freezing at night. I’m switching to fondant this week just to give them something to munch on and keep them from eating through their stores. I can’t wait for next year when I can leave all the honey on them!

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