Is it normal to worry about tens of thousands of insects sitting in a wooden box a couple miles from your house? Well, it’s the new normal in our house. We have one colony of honeybees riding out the winter on a nearby prairie, and this wacky winter weather has thrown us for a loop. Is it so warm that they’re not slowing down – and thus eating through their food reserves too quickly? Or, is this warm weather making it easy on the bees, and so they have lots of food in reserve? Ayyyye, we don’t know.
Last Monday, January 30, Mark made it to the prairie with a plate of bee fondant*, or bee candy, and a protein patty. It was hovering around 50 degrees, so he didn’t tear into the hive too much, but the girls were certainly active and flying around. He took off the lid and the bees boiled up from in-between the frames. That’s a great sign! Of course, we keep hearing that March is the month that is the real tests – if you’re going to suffer winter losses, March is when it happens. We’re trying to give them every advantage possible by feeing them now.
* – Bee fondant. Basically, it’ hard rock candy for bees. We read what seems like a million recipes online, and, our attempt mildly failed. It’s more of a sad taffy than rock candy. *sigh* We happened to be in Sioux City this past weekend and picked up a big box of winter patties at Dadant & Sons. When the temps get high enough we’ll switch the taffy out for the real-deal winter patty.
Speaking of feeding bees, one person has told us that putting on a protein patty now is a good idea, and another tell us that we should NOT have a protein patty on now as it will promote egg laying and you don’t want to do that this early in the year. But, we’ve also heard that because of the warm weather egg laying has started. Like we said before – every beekeeper seems to have a different opinion.