Graveyard

It hit 57 degrees today and the bees were out in FORCE! They were busy “cleaning the house” while they had the chance. Every hive had dead bees on the snow in front of it. I found several areas where the bees had clustered their sisters’ graves. You want to see this as the bees like to keep the hive clean–if you see NO activity and NO dead bees, there’s a problem.

As I walked by to check out the activity at the hive entrances at least 6 honey bees, probably more, landed on me. They seemed to be investigating me as a potential food source. To keep them from coming home “empty-handed” I provided them with two quart jars of sugar syrup for communal feeling, and set out some dry pollen for them to gather. I add a drop of lemongrass to the bucket edge of the dry pollen to help them locate it and to act as an attractant. A couple of dry plant stems provide a landing spot in the soft powder.

I also added pollen patties to the hives and refreshed their fondant stores which had been provided almost 2 weeks ago.

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This hive ate almost all of the fondant, yet they also have plenty of stores. But who doesn’t want a free meal? This is my ten frame nuc which was made from the pink hive. It looks very good.

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This is the pink hive, bottom box. They also had eaten their fondant. There were more bees in the top box and even more out and about. I didn’t pull frames, but I’m sure brood is present. Actually, there was brood in the hives about a month after typical “shut-down” time; I checked them in mid-November and they still had brood. If they were raising brood, they were using resources. Now that they’re ramping up production, I want to make sure I give them what they need. If they need it, they’ll use it! I’ll be checking them every week and refreshing as needed, and on warm days I’ll leave out the dry pollen and sugar jars. What I really want to do is look at the frames, we’ll see what wins: my impatience or the temperature. 🙂

 

 

Blizzards are good…

For updating a blog. We started hearing about a potential snow storm early in the week, this was upgraded to a blizzard a couple of days ago and the snow started just as I was coming home from work on Friday. By evening we had a few inches, by morning it was up to my knees.

The wind is incredible, the snow is blowing horizontally and there are very high drifts due to the wind.

We have the wood stove going, hot coffee and lemon scones served with homemade Meyer lemon curd…yum. I just came back from trudging out to the coop to retrieve the chickens’ frozen water bucket and was able to take a few pictures of the chickens and the bees.

In the past week, I managed to put some fondant onto the bees (I could see bees in the top box of two hives) and plan to make some pollen patties this weekend.

As for the chickens, the last 2 batches never cared for the snow and refused to step on this strange white stuff. I was wondering if the new chicks would feel the same way and apparently they do. I have seen them stick their heads out of the pop doors and a couple would even try to fly from the door to the space under the coop to avoid the snow! It’s very funny because they are NOT graceful since they can’t “fly” the way most birds do. I’d be curious to hear if other chickens also avoid the snow. WordPress has a new format for the pictures so I think you click on the pictures for the captions.

 

All this crazy wind blew snow into the chicken coop. Everyone asks me how the chickens are handling the cold and if my coop is heated. People are nuts. I have had a chicken die from heat (RIP Simone), never of cold. Chickens have very warm down under their feathers, just like the birds you see everyday. When they perch on their roost, they fluff out their feathers and cover their feet to keep them warm. Minimizing drafts while allowing plenty of ventilation (chickens exhale moist air just like we do) significantly reduces the risk of frostbite. Make sure they have access to liquid water and plenty of food–they use the digestion of food to generate heat.

I had to remove their outside water bucket since the deicer had stopped working. This left 5 gallons of ICE to carry into the house and muscle into a sink to defrost. Ugh. I have an alternative I’ll post about in a few days. Hope everyone’s bees do well this winter.