February 7, 2016

How Honeysuckle Hive Is Doing

As a novice beekeeper I'm always wondering what's going on inside my hive this winter. Are they still alive? Are they warm enough? Do they have enough to eat? The last time I saw any activity was early in November, when we had some beautifully mild days. The bees were gathering dandelion pollen. Then came days and weeks of very cold weather, along with either rain or snow. Since then we've had a few days close to 60°F (15°C), and I've watched closely to see if there is any activity at the hive. Seeing none, I began to worry that the colony hadn't made it. Then the other day I saw this

Mud spattered but still a happy home

Lots of bees were out and about, stretching their wings and enjoying the warm sunny weather. I was so happy! We have daffodils, dandelions, strawberries, and Japanese magnolias blooming, but I didn't see any foraging going on. The week promises to be very cold, so the bees will stay snug in their hive.

I have two more packages of bees scheduled to arrive next month. Guess we'd better get to work on those hives.

23 comments:

  1. On warm days this time of year I would bet ya a bee hive the girls are foraging in trees. Honey bees go after volume more than anything else and unless I miss my guess I would imagine you have Elm or maple species blooming right about now. If not them then some sort of Ash I would imagine. Our Maples up here will start blooming in late February.

    On warm days the hives will often fly for a bit then stop for a bit so if you check just once you might miss em. I have noticed when I walk up to a bank of hives on a warm winters day one time some will be active others not then an hour later it's reversed. Once a good source of nectar or pollen is located though they will come and go constantly.

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    1. Thank you for that! I still have a lot to learn and that my colony seems to have survived the winter is to the bees credit, not mine.

      Of the trees you mention we have maples. Last year my almond tree bloomed in February, but we missed that due to the late arrival of the bees. This I'm hoping for more from this hive.

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  2. That's great news. Why do you need to bring in more colonies though? Won't your existing hive swarm when spring and summer produce more food?

    Just wondering.

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    1. Good questions, Chris. A lot of beeks set out bait swarms and never have to buy packages. Let's just say I'd love to catch a swarm or learn how to divide a colony, but don't have the confidence factor for that yet. :) I plan to put out a bait hive, but we'll seel.

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  3. Yay!!
    I'd be a nervous wreck, waiting for signs of life.

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    1. It is kind of nerve wracking, especially when so many others around the internet have lost hives this year. Very thankful to have it otherwise here.

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  4. We just started beekeeping a few years ago. Sadly we lost our hive the 2nd year into it after a bad winter. There is just so much to know! We are waiting for a our new package of bees to arrive this spring. The best thing I did was joining a local bee group. So helpful with all of my questions! Good luck!
    Liz

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    1. Liz, you are so right about so much to know. Yet losses happen to experienced beeks as well as beginners. I feel so very fortunate that mine has made it so far!

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  5. so glad that your hive is doing well. there was an article on bee keeping in our local ad paper. hubby was intrigued, but I think it was more for the honey.
    hoping that we get lots of apple blossoms this spring. Kiddo & I love watching all the busy bees.

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    1. You ought to get him a beekeeping book! Who knows? Bees are truly fascinating creatures.

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  6. I can't believe you've got all that blooming already - wow! We have zero and I don't expect anything for another couple of months at least. Sad face!

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    1. But you probably don't have our sweltering summers. :)

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  7. Yay for you and Honeysuckle! I was the same way, in fact, have a post coming up almost the same. I was worried because there was NO activity on a cold day recently. I mean nothing, and without being able to see inside, I peeked and found them all in a giant ball, presumably keeping the hive warm. Then today, they were in and out like a normal spring day. Yay! Can't wait to get the second one back with a new package. And hoping for our first ever honey harvest later this Summer. There is SO much to learn isn't there? And a lot is just kind of guess as you go along. Every hive/colony is different. But I'm loving every moment!

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    1. I didn't realize your one hive made it! What a relief after having them both knocked over like that. So glad to hear about that.

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  8. Yay! Its such a relief to check in our hives and see bees going in and out. We don't have such a cold winter, so we can still check on them on warms days. Glad to hear that yours are doing well.

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    1. Thanks Liz. I suppose I'll always be concerned. Just feel fortunate so far.

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  9. I am looking to add bees to Stone Clay Farm this year. Could you please tell me where you are getting your starter bees from. Thanks

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    1. I get them locally, from a beekeeper who also runs a bulk food store. They make a huge order every year for anyone who wants bees. I'm not sure where the bees actually come from, however. They are hygienic Italians.

      You might want to see if there is a beekeepers group in your county or region. They can probably give you the best advice.

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  10. That is great. We don't have anything blooming here yet. Good luck for the future! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy! I'm actually amazed that we do have things blooming. Not sure if it's because of the mild spells we've had, or if I just didn't bother to notice before we had bees.

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  11. Congrats! So glad to hear your bees made it. So jealous that you have blooms already, there is more snow foretasted for here today. We have ordered both a package of bees and a swarm trap, we will see what happens.

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  12. Leigh,

    A very good sign there's life in the Honeysuckle Hive. Now you can get ready for your next bee shipment.

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  13. Glad the wacky weather hasn't hindered them. My guy came that weekend to tip my hive to check for food stores. Yesterday it was 1 degree out and now it is 57 and pounding rain. I would not want to be a bee trying to figure this all out!

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