The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Listening to the hive

Listening to the hivePart of Warre hive methodology involves opening the hive as little as possible.  In past years, I've performed a winter hive check on a warm day to check on honey stores, but this year, I'm instead pressing my ear up against the hive every week or two to take a listen.  Or, in this case, getting Mom to do it for me.

When you listen to each side of each box, you can not only determine which box the main cluster is in, but also where the bees are hanging out within the box.  If you're really good, you can also estimate colony size, but I'm not that advanced in my bee-listening skills.

The bottom box of this hive was always nearly empty, so the bees are hanging out in box number two.  Last month, they were toward the back of the box, but now they've moved to the front.

I figure that's a pretty good rate of eating through their stores, since the top box should still be completely full of honey (I hope).  In two months, we should start seeing a few flowers, then everything bursts open at the beginning of April.  I hope our bees can hold on until then!

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock happy with clean water all year long.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We had a warm day today, too. I went up to check the bees and discovered that the horizontal hive was partying hearty in the sunshine. The bees in the lang were a lot more conservative in attitude. I saw a couple of bees there and heard a hum when I listened, but they weren't ready to come out quite yet. Fingers crossed that we have more serious winter here so they'll hunker down and not try to build up too fast and burn through the rest of their stores before things start blooming.
Comment by Robin Wed Jan 9 18:31:44 2013

I love hearing about your bees!

You're really making me think about starting my own hive. I'm a bit hesitant, I'm not one to take too willingly to the mandatory inspections and registration that comes with doing it on the up though, here in Florida...

I'm biting my nails though. Its been looking like it was going to be a fantastic year for the fruit trees. All the early plums, apricots and apples are in full bloom.

But there are no bees in sight! Flower after flower, just dropping. Its very disappointing. It'll be putting those "self pollinating" claims on some of my trees to the test, I think.

The wasp are starving this time of year so they're doing some pollen work, but they're no good at it. Hopefully though they can help me out with the second round of flower buds maturing.

Wild bees have been declining for a while now around here, I had to hand pollinate all my curbits last summer. I wonder if they might be gone this year....

Anyway, I really enjoy updates on your bees.

Comment by T Thu Jan 10 00:23:35 2013

T, I'm so jealous of your flowers at this time of year! We've got nearly three more months to wait until our fruit trees bloom.

You might try attracting native pollinators if you're worried about pollination but don't want to have the hassle of a honeybee hive. I'd say about 75% of the pollination in our garden comes from the natives --- we really keep honeybees for the honey. Good luck!

Comment by anna Thu Jan 10 12:03:43 2013

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