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

Brushing snow away from the bee hive

Snow-covered hive

I took these photos a week ago, when snow had been on the ground for six days and I suddenly had the realization that my poor honeybees might be smothering inside their hive. I rushed out and brushed the entrance free, then pressed my ear against each side of each Brushing snow away from hivebox. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And then --- there! --- a low buzz.

The colony sounded awfully weak, which didn't really surprise me given the extremely low temperatures we'd been experiencing. But, at the same time, I knew that people successfully keep bees in much colder climates than ours, so I hoped for the best.

Imagine my joy when I went to listen again this past weekend and heard a louder hum. I think the bees were just hunkering down during the extreme cold, and I now have high hopes that they'll be able to make it until the first spring flowers begin to bloom. The dandelions should be out in force within a month --- hang in there, bees!

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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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Aren't bees remarkable little creatures. I just love them (all types of bees). I have some watering stations in my city garden with pebbles so that the bees can safely drink. I also have uncovered rain barrels but I float a piece of wood in them for any poor bug who may unfortunately fall in. I found a small bat in one once and started doing this. I check all of the watering stations/barrels every morning in the summer. What I have learned is, never give up on a bee you think has drowned. I scoop them out, put them in my hand, and blow on them to warm them up. If it's cold out I'll take them into the greenhouse. A short time later I can feel the hum of life in my hand. If they are really weak I will make up a solution of sugar water and put a drop on my hand. Then they will extend their proboscis and take a drink. I keep doing this until their strength builds up. Shortly after, they unfurl their wings and do a bit if buzzing. It's the most amazing experience. I've done this with bumble bees too, but mostly honeybees. I've done it many times with pretty much 100% success. Yes, it takes time, but it's so worth it to me. I also knew someone who froze a bumble bee as an experiment and upon thawing, it came back to life. Pretty amazing. Glad your bees were okay. Most people don't realize how absolutely important they are.
Comment by Heather Tue Mar 3 10:24:59 2015

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