Monday, December 13, 2010

It's a Wrap

And so our beekeeping season comes to a close.

Fluffy aster seeds wait for a breeze to come and take them away to a new patch of ground.

The leaves had fallen from the trees. The temperature had been dropping. It was time to wear gloves in the morning to keep my fingers warm. A hat made waiting for the bus a little more comfortable.

And the bees weren't flying any more. They weren't taking the syrup either. It was too cold.

I held off putting my winter wraps on until a really cold day when I knew no bees would be flying.

Last year I made the mistake of putting the wraps on on a warmer fall day. Bees that returned to their hive that evening were confused at the change and couldn't find their way in.

Many perished from the cold and rain, their bodies littering the front stoop. It was a sorry sight.

I hate these mistakes--ones you don't think about because you haven't done it before. So, if you are new to putting wraps on I hope this advice helps you. Put them on when it's so cold the bees are all inside.

I went a step farther this year and put them on, not pulling them all the way down, just to give the bees a few days to adjust to the hive change. Then on a really cold day I came back and pulled them down snug.

The entrance reducers had been put on about two weeks earlier so the bees were already adjusted to returning to their smaller entrance in the corner.


I came to the yard one day to discover the reducer pulled out of place--raccoon activity--so I used duct tape to hold them in place.

The wraps are made by NOD Apiaries. They're made of strong black plastic that has polyester-like batting sealed inside, just like a quilt.

When using wraps, there's two things to do. One is to put a nail in your entrance reducer. This catches on the plastic and prevents it from slipping all the way down and closing the entrance completely.

The second is that there needs to be an upper entrance. It acts to release extra heat and prevents excessive moisture and condensation forming inside the hive.

The following weekend this happened. Snow. Tons of it. I'm in London, Ontario where we got 1 meter of snow in 2 days. Just north of the city a town of Lucan got 1.5 meters.

We all got a three days off work to spend at home shovelling out our driveways. Children were happy to have a "snow day" and stay home from school.

I haven't been to the bee yard yet to see how they fared. One thing about snow is that it acts as an insulating blanket.

I'm sure the bees are as snug as a bug in a rug.
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