Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow on the Beehive

If you live in Minnesota, this weather is not a big deal, but for Washington, it's COLD!

Last time I went to my local bee supply store, Trees 'N Bees, I was talking with the master bee keeper Loren. He told me a bit about hive maintenance in the winter.

First thing I did was to feed the bees about 6 weeks ago with a medicated batch of syrup. Here's an old post about how that works.

Next, I kept feeding to make up for the honey that I robbed from the hive. I fed the girls about 50 pounds of sugar over the next few weeks.

The next thing Loren told me to do was to make sure I cleaned out the hive entrance so it wouldn't get clogged with dead bees. The hive population goes from its peak of 60-80,000 in the summer to around 10-15,000 in the winter.

You can see a bunch of bees right there on the porch. My camera battery died, so I don't have any video. But all I did was take a coat hanger out there and just scrape out all the dead bees. If you don't clean it out ever few weeks, the entrance can become clogged. Then the rest of the bees won't be able to get outside to go to the bathroom. Loren told me they go about every 6 weeks when there's a mild day.

A few guard bees poked their head out when I was scraping around - so I'm confident they are doing OK in there. Keeping things at 95 degrees. I did not remove the ice on the top half of the entrance. I thought it was better to have just half of it open. That's what the bees have kept clear, so I didn't change it.

It's been really cold for the past few weeks here. I'll go out and check the hive again here in the next few days, and take some video.

See You Next Time