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

Bee confidence and honey stores

I like to do a full-scale analysis of the honey situation in each hive at this time of year so that I know whether the bees need help preparing for winter.  That means delving down into the brood box to count frames of capped honey, which sends spirals of confused foragers circling above my head.  The video really doesn't do the situation justice --- when you're in the middle of it, it feels a bit like standing in the middle of five lanes of speeding traffic.

In the past, I've been terrified of this cloud of buzzing bees when they reach their population peak in late summer.  I usually ended up jerking around and getting stung, but last year Mark talked me into getting a bee jacket.  I was surprised how a little bit of protection increased my confidence enough that I was able to realize the bees were just confused by losing access to the hive, not angry.  Sure enough, with calm movements, nobody even stung my protective clothing.

So how were the honey stores?  Lower than I would like, partly because when you split hives you set them back, and partly because of weird weather --- too much rain kept the bees cooped up during certain periods, then too much dry made later nectar flows sparse.  The mother hive currently has 30 pounds of capped honey and the daughter hive has 12 pounds, less than they had a month ago and far short of our goal of 50 to 60 pounds.  That said, there's a lot of nectar dehydrating that I didn't count, so hopefully at my next inspection, the mother hive (at least) will be in the clear.  I may have to feed the daughter sugar water to fill up her larder.

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock happy and healthy in tractors, pastures, and coops.

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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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