Winter weather and beekeeper’s thoughts change often

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Making sugar cakes on December 3. © Erik Brown

My friend Gordon used to say that it takes three years to become a good teacher. We were teaching secondary school in Botswana, Africa at the time, preparing students for their O-level and A-level exams. Gordon said that you spend the first year figuring out the material, the second year figuring out how to teach, and the third year really teaching. Of course, I only taught for two years, so it never quite happened for me.

This may apply to how beekeepers overwinter bees as well. I read and learned much and stumbled through my first winter. As we enter my second winter I have stronger opinions about what I should have or could have done better. Next year I will be perfect. Continue reading

Eat, drink, and bee merry

In Virginia, we have six to eight weeks of summer dearth followed by an unreliable fall, so the best nectar the bees see is in spring and early summer. Last year, in my first year of beekeeping, another beekeeper told me to feed my hives in August and September. Otherwise they will eat much of their stores and not have enough for winter. Well, it turns out he was correct. Continue reading

Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Genes

160207 TBH AliveMuch to my darling wife’s dismay, there is always something to worry about for a first year beekeeper. The latest fear is whether my top bar hive still had live bees inside. It’s been rather cold lately and there has not been a lot of activity in the apiary. My top bar hive has an observation window, and while I try not to peek inside too often, I have not seen any bees in the window since our snowstorm a couple weeks ago. Continue reading

Beehive House

160118a New HivesAn update on my recent activities, from my trip to Ithaca, New York through our current snow storm.  The trip to my parent’s was a great success. My lovely wife and daughter stayed behind so it was just me and the ‘rents – it’s been awhile since that has happened! Building the top bar hives was a bit of a challenge, so I really appreciated having dear old dad to assist. We built two hives based on the plans from my prior post, and had a nice time in and around Ithaca. We even visited local beekeeper Duane Waid and toured his honey processing facility. More on that another time, perhaps.

This week we prepared for the big snow storm currently hitting our area, so I have a short update on this as well. Continue reading

1001 Arabian Mites

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Our Quince blooming on December 26, 2015

This started as my official end of year hive update, so now it has become my official beginning of the year hive update. Happy 2016 to one and all. The hives are officially closed up until spring is on the horizon. With our mostly warm days of late, this might come sooner than expected. We had some bushes start to bloom, especially our two Quince bushes, though the weather turned decidedly cold this week so winter seems to have finally arrived. Continue reading

Hey-bee it’s cold outside

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Placing a BroodMinder sensor on top of Mars on December 6.

I received my BroodMinder “Health Telemetry Sensor” devices this past week. It was a good week to have temperature and humidity sensors, as it’s been colder here with some hard frosts overnight multiple days in a row. Mind you, this is Virginia, so it’s been warm with the bees flying in the afternoons. This weekend we’re expecting temperatures near 70 (21 C), so don’t feel too bad for me or the bees.

I thought I would share some initial experience with the device and some changes I’ve already made to the hives as a result of the readings. Continue reading