Page February 2010
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An overwintering Styrofoam hive opened briefly for a glance
Over these frames sits a soft 6-mil black plastic pillow stuffed with a layer of one inch Kodel batting
The styrofoam lid goes over that, and two bricks hold everything down
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Mornings are foggy and dull. I'm glad I don't have to drive anywhere.
Thankfully, the days are now much longer and the long hours of darkness more tolerable, but I am really wondering why I am sitting here when there are warm, sunny places and boats sitting empty in their berths. I know the answer, though. We agreed when we retired back in 2003 to move someplace smaller and closer to activities, but my wife soon forgot about that. So, here I am in a 8,000 square foot 'house' (Actually an old school) occupied most of the time by one person, one cat, and a dog. It is odd what people do for love, or is it inertia?
I really should go skiing more, but it is a long drive to the mountains and back. I used to love driving, but have become more conservative about using up fuel. I am quite amazed by how much people consume without thought. My drive to Calgary and back last night used about five gallons, I am guessing. Not only is that twenty-five dollars gone, but also a lot of resources consumed. That is the problem with this location: I am twenty-five dollars from anywhere, and a hundred from others.
By the way, have I mentioned here how Bell Mobility screwed me? Probably not, but I promised them I would make sure that everyone I know hears how inconsiderate and exploitive they have proven themselves to be.
I have been with Bell about five years, maybe six... To be cont'd.
One month until the spring equinox. The days are lengthening quickly!
I looked at the scale hives today. They look great. I lifted lids and pillows and took a look. Only one -- the four-high -- is not up to the lid. The weight loss continues quite steady.
I went out and weighed the hives again today, taking the time to look at some of the farther ones. There is one I wonder about. There is quite a mess in front, but the bees look not too bad.
We have another four weeks until good flying weather and six weeks until there is any forage to speak of. This is the time when the bees are growing old and are up against the odds. The next eight weeks will tell which hives make it and which do not.
I see my skunk is busy eating along the line. She has not been scratching, and not eating the bees in the snow. I am seeing bees in the snow as far away as several hundred yards, BTW.
A day at the desk and a trip to town for groceries in the afternoon. I'm spending too much time on BeeSource again. BEE-L is picking up after a lull. Aaron is away and I am riding herd on it.
I have several other tasks I am working on simultaneously: feed concepts, bookkeeping, organizing and planning.
We are getting into some warmer weather. The next few days should be warmer and I expect we'll see the snow melt.
Readers will know that although I recommend feeding sugar in fall, well before the cold weather, I do not recommend feeding sugar in winter, except as an emergency measure. Sugar feeding in winter is hard on the bees -- it wears out the bees by raising the hive metabolism and expanding the cluster to process the sugar. As a result, the feed is just consumed with no resulting build-up at a time when the bees should be quietly hunkered down and waiting for spring. Nonetheless, sometimes emergency feeding is necessary to save the hive.
If, after checking the hives and finding them near starvation, feeding in winter proves to be necessary my first choice is frames of honey, then fondant or candy boards, since they are much like honey and are readily accessible to the cluster.
Fondant is hard to get on short notice, though, so if frames of honey are not available, the alternatives are dry sugar and syrup.
Syrup is hard to feed in cold weather, since it must be supplied in some form of container, and then the bees have to get to it through areas of the hive which may be cold. Even using 'baggie feeders' requires the bees to walk up and away from the cluster and back. The moisture in the syrup can be a problem as well, and bees fed syrup in winter usually look pretty poor.
Another, better method is to feed dry granulated white sugar on newspaper over the top bars. (See photo at right provided by Bill Greenrose in NH). This method is easy, since no special equipment or mixing is required.
Simply place two sheets of newspaper on the top bars and pour on some white sugar, then make a few holes. Some beekeepers wet the paper, some don't. Check back in a few hours or a day and see if you need to add water. Don't overdo it, though and cake up the sugar.
A rim (right) or some way to raise the lid a little is helpful, but a sheet of plastic draped over and taped or tied around the edge will do the job, too. Pollen patties can be placed alongside or under the sugar, as shown.
As with any winter feeding scheme though, there are some concerns. For one thing, a cluster needing feed is vulnerable and providing more than a minimum of space overhead can result in loss of heat and moisture. Losing moisture may be a good thing up to a point, but when feeding dry sugar, it is the metabolic moisture and heat from the cluster that is used to liquefy the sugar, so too much ventilation will be a problem.
I opened a few hives this morning. Popped the lids, actually. It is hard to tell much, since some apparently small clusters may be just the top of a cluster which is farther down the hive, particularly in the case of the triples. So far, so good.
I guess I'll have to start planning what I'm doing and getting things ready.
I drove to Red deer to deliver Ellen's art show to the gallery. She had planned to do it, but this cold has her feeling weak. I've been going through two weeks of it, too, but am now recovering.
The snow is melting and there is water on the ground near the hives.
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"If I make a
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not so much by what you acquire but by what you give away,"
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