Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow Bees

Here we are at the end of January and man is this winter dragging! Every year I forget how long it stays cold and start looking for the warm weather before it is ready to arrive.

Anyway, we have had a cold but relatively dry winter up until a few days ago. Over the weekend we got dumped on by a big storm system that came through. By Saturday afternoon we had about 7 inches of snow on the ground.

The bees survive the snow just fine. In fact I doubt they are very aware of it at all. I have read that snow piled up around the hive actually helps to insulate them and protect them from the wind.

I did clear the snow away from the fronts of the hives but I don't know that that was completely necessary. The heat from the hives had already melted the snow directly in front of the entrances. What was interesting was that even though it was only 24 degrees outside when I took this picture, there were bees crawling around the front entrances. They are not supposed to break the cluster until it gets well above freezing. The only thing I can figure is that they were taking advantage of the melting snow in front of the entrances to collect water.

Now back to the subject of feeding Virginia. I know I have changed my mind on this subject a couple of times. Back in December I was worried about both hives and wanted to add some dry sugar as supplemental feed. Then, when I peeked in at the beginning of January, Georgia's bees were still in the bottom deep and Virginia's had moved up to the top- I thought they both had plenty of honey so I quit worrying. Since then I have read that if the bees are to last the winter on their own honey, they should still be working on the bottom deep in the first part of January. Apparently spring can be a precarious time for bees and they can quickly starve to death if they run out of honey stores too early. So now I have decided to supplement Virginia with dry sugar- if we can ever get some warmer days that is. I don't want to chill them to death while I am trying to save them from starving to death.


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