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

February hive check

Winter hive check.When I last checked on our honeybees, a little over a month ago, I was a bit concerned that one hive might not have enough honey to make it through the winter.  The one I worried about was a healthy hive, but I'd made the mistake of combining a very weak hive with the stronger hive that fall, and I think the double dose of workers ate through their honey stores very rapidly.  I knew that our strongest hive had honey to spare, but I decided to wait until February to do anything about it.

February came in like a lion, and just kept roaring for most of the month.  The weather was far too chilly to get into that hive, and I started worrying (and having nightmares about starving bees.)  So when Friday warmed up, the bees were at the top of my agenda.

I opened up the hives, and was shocked to see that all three seemed to have nearly as much honey as had been there a month ago!  I can't quite figure out why they ate masses of honey in December, but very little in January --- maybe they finally killed off their summer workers in the interim and had fewer mouths to feed?  Maybe the sugar water they were still evaporating from my late fall feedings had been turned into honey?  No matter --- I needn't have been concerned.  Just to keep the nightmares at bay, I moved a few frames of honey from the strongest hives to the other two hives, even though now I didn't think they would need it.

Honeybee on my pen.Meanwhile, the bees were so pleased by the weekend's balmy weather that they went out foraging.  They kept coming by and visiting with me as I played in the woods --- one buzzed around me at the ford (a fourth of a mile from the hives) and another landed on my notebook as I read in the woods Saturday (maybe even a little further away, on the top of a tall hill.)  Granted, my visitors could have been wild bees, but they seemed extraordinarily tame, and almost interested in me.  Or maybe it was the smell of recently peeled orange on my hands....  I wonder if they found the witch hazel blooming on the north side of the property and had a winter snack?

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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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Awesome! That gives me hope that mine are doing well, too. I begin to get paranoid right about now. I was happy to watch the girls coming in loaded up with pollen over the weekend, though.
Comment by Eliza Mon Feb 22 19:17:27 2010
I know what you mean about getting paranoid. The hives look so still and silent over the winter! I'm surprised your girls found something to give them pollen, but I guess you're a zone south of us.
Comment by anna Mon Feb 22 19:32:18 2010

I absolutely love bees and all of their bumbling relatives. I like to chat with them too, even if it seems one-sided :)

Glad yours are doing well. It is neat that they came to visit and it sounds like you sure enjoyed the nice day.

Comment by HeatherW Mon Feb 22 20:43:32 2010
It sure was nice to play hooky in the good weather. A real farmer would have taken advantage of the warmth to get some things done, but I'm glad Mark's trained me to take the weekends off. :-)
Comment by anna Tue Feb 23 07:49:18 2010

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