Saturday, January 30, 2016

Still Alive and Buzzing!

 It's the final weekend in January, and the temperature today, even with a layer of snow remaining on the ground from our December storm, reached the mid-40's.  With another storm coming in early next week, followed by a cold front, we decided to take a look at the bees to see how they were doing with supplies.  As you can see, there remained plenty of food yet from the feed we gave two weeks ago.  There is even still some of the sugar cakes we had put in in December.  So, we didn't add any.  You can see a number of bees clinging to the cloth on the bottom of the quilt box.
Last year at this time we were down to one hive already, so it is good to see the bees appearing to be well.  There certainly were big numbers in each hive and it's good they are able to get out for cleansing flights and to get needed water.  There is still a lot of winter to go, but I continue to be optimistic about the use of the quilt boxes for humidity control.
If we get a warm spell in several weeks, I might mix up a bit of the pollen feed and begin feeding that.  Typically queens have begun laying by mid-February here.
Update:    Superbowl Sunday.  Temps in the forties and bees flying at all hives.  Gave each a little food.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January Doldrums

I checked the hives the other day.  It was only in the low 30's, but I wanted to check the hives for food.  Anyway, it was full sunshine and quite warm really back by the hives.  Bees were flying about.  All 3 remaining hives (we lost the little colony we had started late summer, which probably should have been combined but I just felt the other hives were so full of bees they didn't need more company).  I gave food to all and the bees, from my minimal investigation, looked ok.  I ordered more winter patties from Mann Lake and a bucket of their dry feed which I will give them in the spring (fingers crossed!!) when we want to get a good start on brood production.

I wrapped the hives in tarpaper this year, with the quilt boxes and feeding spacers in place as well.  If I can continue to get food out to them, I hope to get them all through the winter.

I've been reading more about oxalic acid treatments.  I'm just not sure the MAQS treatment worked well this year, but I might try it again in the spring and consider the acid treatment in the fall.  I think I'm favoring the dribble method instead of the vapor, but I may reconsider if I can spend some time in the summer tinkering with a vapor method.

My daughter sent me a link to a nice graphic showing the movement of honey bees in the U.S. for pollination purposes, put out by the National Geographic.  It's worth looking at.  In my mind, we need to change the way we pollinate our crops and efforts should be made to increase the number of native bees in these areas.