The Healthy Honeybee

Learning about Beekeeping

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bees in a house

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200 pounds of honey in a house. My guess is, there were probably about 100,000 bees there too. If you have 2 minutes:

Video Link

Yikes.
Thanks to my friend Carolyn who sent me the link.
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pollen packets

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When I checked the bees on Sunday, many were carrying these ‘pollen packets’ on their hind legs. They actually stuff the pollen into the pouches on their hind legs and bring it home to feed the larvae. I saw pale yellow, dark yellow, and some shades of orange. They obviously have a few sources of flowers these days!
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playing juliet

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So here you can see the hive I fretted and worried over, thinking it was dead. Busy as can be! I’m so happy to have two good hives. Next trip out will be for cleaning, this one was just to check on them, take off the tar paper and move the straw bales out of their way.
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don’t poop in the hive

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Bees are such clean insects. They won’t relieve themselves inside the hive, not even in winter; they’ll wait until it’s warm enough to fly out and release their pent-up waste outside. This photo was taken today when I went to check on the bees – the first time all winter – and you can see evidence of their ‘cleansing flights’ on the snow. You can also see lots of dead bees, which is typical.

I’m a bit worried about one of the hives, though: I think it’s dead. I could hear activity in the one hive when I put my ear up to the back of it, but the other was silent. Time will tell. It’s still too early to open up the hives and take a real look.
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cozies


This pic was taken 12 days ago – I put some straw bales around the bottom of the hives to provide added protection from the elements. I’m sure it’s not absolutely necessary, but it makes me feel better. The tar paper doesn’t go down to the bottom of the hives – it kind of reminded me of pants that are too short. Floods, I think they were called by the grownups who used to tease me about my pant legs being too short when I was a kid. “Where’s the flood?” Well, nowhere. Is it my fault I was growing so fast? Sheesh.

Anyway, regardless of whether this is a useful endeavour or not, there they are. Like everything else, we’ll see what happens.
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almost ready?


The first thing I saw yesterday as I opened my tar papered hives was this furry little friend, who seems to have found a nice dry place to overwinter. He had some lady friends with him too:

I went to fix a mistake – I had forgotten to make a vent hole at the top, so I had to open the hives and replace the inner covers with vented ones that Ken is kindly letting me borrow. All went well at the first hive, very sleepy/cold bees, no movement. The hole-making went beautifully, as you can see below:


That was the easy hive. I saved my biggest meanest hive for last. These ladies seem to be energized by the cold – I opened them up and they were awake and buzzing and didn’t really want me there. The hole-making was not as successful:


It was hard to jam my pocketknife through the tar paper without impaling bees – they were really pissy about a new hole in their house.

While I was there I also remembered to fix my entrance reducers so they’re not upside down anymore:


So now we’re almost ready! I still want to put some straw bales around them for extra windbreak and insulation, but I thought I’d give it a little while.
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it’s a wrap


Sort of ready for winter, here – not sure if I did this right, but November is 2 days away and I thought I better at least provide some cold protection for the bees. I want to add some straw bales for added protection, too. I’m thinking the tar paper should cover the bottom a bit more – but I didn’t want to block the entrance….

Definitely still learning. A lot.
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saving heat


I finally was able to put in my entrance reducers today. Life is busy! Hopefully now the bees will be able to heat their homes even more efficiently. I thought for awhile about which way I should put the opening… do they look like they’re upside down? I’m not sure what’s the best way, or if it matters. This hive didn’t really care that I was putting in the entrance reducer – they’re my weaker hive for sure.

If you look at this next pic, you can see the difference:


These ladies were mighty ticked with me – one stung my veil (not me), and another just clung to my veil and b*tched at me for awhile. They did not like having this thing stuck in their doorway, not at all. I’ll check on Wednesday to see if they’ve managed to work together and shove the thing out, or if they’ve decided to live with it and cram the cracks with propolis.
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lowering heating costs


On Saturday the 3rd, I went to the beeyard to feed one of my hives sugar syrup. They hadn’t filled out the frames as well as they could have, and it’s important for winter survival that they are full to maximum capacity. So, despite not wanting refined sugar in my life anymore, back in it came. In the top picture you see the hive with a honey super on top – I had to leave a space for the ziplock bag of sugar syrup between the frames and the lid. After Ken’s comment on a previous post, I thought I better follow his recommendations, so I built myself a rim. I went to the beeyard today to feed them again, and switch over to the rim. That’s the next pic, showing the rim I made, and the inner cover on top:


It makes more sense to have the least amount of empty space possible, because the bees have to heat up all the space in their hive. More space to heat means more energy expended by the bees, so they’ll be eating more honey, and as a result they’ll have less honey for the winter. The less honey they have for the winter, the more likely they are to die before the nectar flow in the spring.
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