Winter 2011-2012 has been non-existent. I remember only one, possibly two days of frost. A couple weeks of super cold winds blew through. Mostly it's been an up-and-down winter with temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 60s during the day, and 20s to the 50s at night. Wild swings.
Both hives have been bringing in pollen when they can. The month of January cream-colored and deep yellow pollen was being brought in at a fair pace. Orientation flights have been taking place, but less so far this month than in January, just a couple handfuls. I'm doing my own orientation flight, but as the newly elected VP of the Mecklenburg County Beekeepers Association! Talk about crazy. Last year, sitting in Bee School I had no idea I'd ever bee "here". I'm definitely honored and doing my best. I do love getting to know all kinds of beekeepers, near and far.
Today I hefted both hives. Boris was the lightest, and has been all winter. Still, Boris weighed total about 70 or 80 pounds, so I know there is plenty of food stores left to get them through winter and into spring. Natasha? I couldn't even pick that hive up, so she's real strong. Interestingly, more activity has been seen at Boris than Natasha, which means they could be stronger and eating through their food stores more rapidly. This is something I'm definitely worried about.
Also a worry is that with a super early spring (the dogwoods began blooming this weekend!) will come super early swarms and warm tendencies. I've put my order in for equipment, including two nucs. I will be splitting my hives to prevent swarming, and to also increase my apiary. I'm planning on letting them raise their own queens, so I'll be looking for queen cells in the making as soon as I do my first inspection. A longtime beekeeper I know has not gone into his hives yet. Still many more I know have been rummaging around in their hives throughout this obscenely warm winter. I am leaving mine alone. Winter is winter as far as I'm concerned. I've seen now signs of alarm so I've left them well enough alone. With the red maples, daffodils and now dogwoods in bloom, I am anxious for that first early spring inspection. The weather hasn't been cooperating, with temps recently in the 60s during the week and 40s during the wet weekends. Rain has been fairly consistent with a moderate amount this winter.
I've placed my ears up to both hives in the past weeks. A loud HMMMMMM! was heard from both hives, which makes for a happy beekeeper. It seems I'm in tune with my hives during winter.
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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