… so little time.
Here with the end of the constant emails, meetings, phone calls, etc. I thought I would have more time on my hands. Nope. Not one bit. So there is so much stuff to catch up on blogging about, where do I even start?
Wintering, or lack thereof. I guess I will start there. So much of this has been devoted to the struggles and trials of getting urban beekeeping on the books here in Port Washington, but I will go back to a technical beekeeping aspect that I posted about a while back and we have been continuing to stress about and deal with: wintering our bee hive, or in our case, over-wintering.
Being in Wisconsin, we planned for a typical winter– cold and snowy. Usually we have daytime highs around 15 or 20 degrees, somewhat windy, and snow a good portion of the time. But nothing could have been further than the truth this year. We have had maybe 3 snowfalls (over an inch or two) and at least 75% of the days have been sunny and warmer than freezing temps. This has been great for the heating bill and great for outdoor activities, but horrible for the bees and the winter food stores.
We got a late start on our hive this summer as it was, thereby reducing the amount of honey they were able to make for themselves for winter. We supplemented by making fondant and spreading it onto empty comb. We also had made a winter box, just a box out of plywood that fit over the BeePod top bar hive to absorb the sun (warming the hive) and to protect the hive from the brisk winds we tend to get. This has all made for a winter for these bees as if they all flew to St. Pete’s for the winter with the rest of the snowbirds.
I posted pics on here from he beginning of January of the bees out for their cleansing flights, a.k.a. potty breaks. On nice days, bees leave the hive, stretch their wings, and go to the bathroom. Not an unusual phenomenon. Unless it’s January in Wisconsin. What it did give me was a nice 50 degree day to crack the hive open, check an end over and look at where they were for remaining food supplies. I made 3 or 4 more bars of fondant, and we were also able to supplement with popping the feeder board with the sugar-water mix during the day for a while. I popped the shutter cover off a few days ago, and it was cold enough for them to be clustered, but it is obvious that the hive has gotten warm enough for them to be moving the fondant closer to the cluster.
So here we sit on March 5th just hoping for Spring to hurry up and come before their food supplies run out. Today it got to about 35 degrees and there was a lot of corpse removal and a few ladies out for a short flight. We have heard a lot of horror stories of hives that have dies off or that are completely diminished– so far we look to be fortunate enough to be very close to having our hive make it to Spring, if only the food holds out. Then it is on to another guessing game of wintering versus over-wintering.