After three nights of 23, 19 and 21 degrees F, I was ecstatic to find all three colonies alive and well, when visiting home during lunch Thursday. It was a relatively balmy 55 F outside. It was a blessed relief to be able to say prayers of thanks and breathe a bit easier knowing I'd done at least good enough for my bees this year in preparation for winter, which greeted us with an early record-setting arctic blast.
Both nucs and my main hive were flying. All were alive and doing well. Months of simple diligence have so far paid off for T's Bees.
The nucs had as much traffic as the big hive. So, how is that big hive doing? When I last peeked, they were clustered on top and not at the bottom like the bee manuals say they're supposed to. Apparently they don't care for reading. I fed this hive non-stop through summer and fall, about 200 pounds of sugar. When I rescued them earlier in the year they were stuck in the top chamber of three shallows. Maybe it's their sense of humor to cluster in the top and move down as the winter progresses, defying everything you're told online, at bee clubs and in the books. Bees will not hesitate to make you feel as stupid as possible as often as possible.
A month ago I'd emptied all the oil out of my Freeman bottom board / beetle trap in prep for winter. I left the tray a couple of inches open so the hive would have plenty of ventilation, pretty important for a big colony with its entrance reduced to a half inch to keep out the mice and arctic blasts. I was delighted (and shocked) to find this in the tray: dozens of beetles, dead from the cold snap. So far T's bees are hanging in there for winter 2014, while these pests didn't. Thank you, Jesus!
Oh, and what else makes a beekeeper smile on a mild late November day? Enjoying a fun round of Frisbee with his super sweet, energetic dog Honey, that's what!
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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