Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Long Cold Days of Winter

Finally the sun came out and I thought it'd be a good day to visit the bee yard.

The driveway at the orchard was plowed but the hike across the field was difficult.

The snow was about 1.5 feet deep. It was windy too and about -4C.

There were a few dead bees in the snow, not very many. I wonder if that's an indication of how cold our winter has been or hopefully that most bees that flew out for a cleansing flight were able to safely make it back.

I resisted the temptation to pick up freshly dead looking bees to warm them in my hands. I left Mother Nature to do her work.

Three of the four hives had their entrance clear enough that they could come and go. All the hives have a second upper exit as well, also there so that extra heat can ventilate from the hive and prevent a moisture build-up inside.

I cleared the corner of one of the hives that was snowed in. I'm not sure if there entrance was covered because the bees aren't active or if it's because of it's location.

The bad news with that hive is when inspecting the upper exit I noticed lots of brown poop around the entrance. It looks like that hive has Nosema.

This was the hive I've been worried about. They have their own made queen and in comparing their behaviour they don't 'take their meds' like the other hive does. I gave them Fumigilin in a baggie in the fall but they ignored it and were very slow to take it.

I will be requeening that hive in spring.

Only a few minutes after I was there it clouded over and started to snow and blow.

This is definitely an old fashioned winter with lots of snow and cold.


Kat said...

Thanks for your posts. Do the bees do some sort of hibernation during your very cold winters?

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Hi Kat. The bees don't hibernate. They stay awake all winter, clustering to keep warm. They eat their honey and then because they eat they must fly out on warmer winter days to poop.

Temps have been warming lately in Ontario and the bees were out doing cleansing flights yesterday.

Michelle said...

I thought Minnesota was cold. It looks quite chilly up your way. Our bees had a pooping fiesta today when the temps hit 40. I hope your bees are all ok. It has been such a long winter in North America this year.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Hi Michelle. I think 3 of 4 hives are okay. One hive had bad mites in spite of treatment and I think it has Nosema as well.

I was there last weekend and hope to get out again this weekend for a closer look. Temps are really warming up here, giving clear signs of spring (or at least the promise of a spring :)