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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This . . .

The weather guy predicted a high of 40 today! The reality was more like 33, but that’s close enough, and besides that, the only moderatly-viable time in the foreseeable future to feed the bees. So, Robin was flying solo and figured she could knock this task out in 45 minutes.  Phhbbbbbbbbbt.

The path to the bee yard wasn’t as bad as I imagined, but 4WD was very handy.

[reevvvvvvv] Let’s do this!

A sight for sore eyes! Hives still in place!

We’re still standing!

Uh yahhh, suit up, even in the winter, because I’m a sting magnet. And true to form, Lena was a royal nag and the net was a good thing.

2-15 RP net

Safety first, safety always … or a shot in da butt.

All five colonies were looking good! Didn’t want to leave top off for more than a few seconds, to conserve heat, but here was a quick photo of calm bees after I threw a few winter patties on the dinner table.

2-15 inside hive

Dinner is served.

And then there is Lena. Lena is grumpy even when I bust my tail to tromp out in the snow and feed her troops.

2-15 Lena

“WE SHALL BOIL OUT OF THIS WARM HIVE, TO CERTAIN DEATH, TO ATTACK YOUR GLOVED HANDS! ARRRGGGGG!”

And here is one of the ~20 bees from Lena that decided by gloved hands MUST DIE.

2-15 sting

“TAKE THAT YOUR CRUMMY POLARTEC GLOVE … OVER TOP OF A LEATHER GLOVE!!”

Yep, the mice are still enjoying the insulated confines of the winter hive set-up.

Rodents.

It’s always good to see live bees guarding the breathing tubes.

2-15 bees in tube

Bees in da tube.

So there I was, only about 30 minutes into my task, feeling good about seeing many bees in healthy-looking clusters. Time to pack up and go home!  But wait, my spider senses tell me that something is amiss here…

2-15 flat tire

[insert profanity here]

And here is where the beauty of small town Iowa comes into focus. While stranded in the middle of a prairie a couple miles away from town, I put out a ‘ahhhh, I’m in a bind out here‘ Facebook post, and a short time later the calvary rides over the hill and saves the day!

My hero! Brent Smith gets free honey! (Assuming the bees decide to make honey in 2015…)

Here ends the story of winter feeding. And everyone lived happily ever after – including the tire-fixit guys at Trickles.  *sigh*

 

Better Late Than Never!

Whoops! Guess we failed to keep the blog up to date in 2014. So, let’s recap.

I don't remember why I was taking a picture of the back of the truck, but there was one persistent bee that really, really wanted to be in the picture.

I don’t remember why I was taking a picture of the back of the truck, but there was one persistent bee that really, really wanted to be in the picture.

The beginning of the year looked promising. Our worker girls came through the polar vortex in fine form – didn’t lose a colony. We made a couple of splits, one survived, we named it Mongo. And then it started to rain. And rain. And more rain. And it appears that we lacked blooms/nectar and by September, Mongo starved out. Starved out! Unheard of! And ultimately, we harvested zero, zip, nadda, honey. It appears the more-established colonies (everyone other than Mongo) could gather enough nectar and pollen to subsist but surplus was not to be found, meaning the bipeds (Mark and & I) did not get honey. So, we cooked up sugar syrup and more sugar syrup and intensively fed the bees before winter set in. We haven’t been able to open any of the hives this winter, so we’re hoping everyone is still alive. The next time it gets up to 50° we’ll do our best to get out there and throw on more bee food.

Mead! Beautiful, tasty mead!

Mead! Beautiful, tasty mead!

MEANWHILE, the mead we started in 2014 was bottled around Thanksgiving. And, we immediately started drinking it because, well, why not. We now have ~24 gallons perking along in the basement – orange spice, blackberry and cyser are aging nicely.

Winter bees 1-2015

A November 2014 drive-by showed live bees in all five hives.

And so we wait. We wait for winter to pass and spring to be sprung, and then we do it all over again. But hopefully this time we harvest honey!