Poor Bees

The remaining hive doesn’t have as many bees as I would like with the winter now here. The past few days have be hovering between freezing and 40 f and windy with nights in the 20’s. I gave them all the stores I could scrounge from the hives that had been robbed and killed and added chunks of sugar bricks.

Today the first 10 lb sugar board was made. As soon as it is dry and we have a slightly warmer day next week, the board will be added to the hive and any bricks left added on top.

I don’t want to have to open the hive any more than absolutely necessary to add more sugar. I explored the Mountain Camp idea of just placing newspaper down and pouring loose sugar on it, but saw mixed reviews of the idea and my local friend said they would never do it that way again. To provide a bottom to my sugar board, I stapled on a queen excluder and placed a single sheet of newspaper on it with a hole in the center for the cluster to move up under to feed.

The frames that were brought up from the dead hives have all spent at least 3 days in the freezer, then placed back in the boxes and sealed in large bags to prevent wax moth destruction.

I hope that by keeping this hive fed and not opening it unless to add feed, they will survive the winter and become a strong hive next year. Then adding a second or third hive back will be explored using the built out frames and working with the medium boxes. I am disappointed with my first season of bee keeping/learning, but medical issues interfered at a critical time and sometimes life just gets in the way.

Not a good beekeeper

The past 9 weeks have been stressful with hubby’s issues, many, many appointments, and responsibilities. We had a stretch of very cold weather, then a return to spring. This afternoon, I finally set out to add 2:1 syrup and put the newly purchased, assembled, and painted sugar block trays in place. Everything needed was loaded into the back of one of the cars and driven down the field to the bee yard.

Once there, a notable lack of bees moving about caused some alarm, but determined to see what was what, the suit was donned, the smoker prepped if needed and the cover of the first, formerly strongest hive was removed. There was no life at all in the hive. Upon disassembling it tier by tier, this was what was on the bottom board.

Moving on to the second hive, it was a repeat of the first and when I reached the third hive, one that had been weak and was combined with another hive and given a new queen, it had life, not as strong as I would have liked, but alive. The hive was broken down far enough for me to place a sugar brick tray right on top of the queen excluder, all of the honey I could get from the first two hives added to the honey super for this hive and it placed back on, and three quarts of 2:1 syrup added to an empty medium box, and the hive closed back up. All of the parts from the other two hives were brought back to the house and I am going to have to get some large bags to load the frames into and put in the freezer for long enough to kill off anything that shouldn’t be in them, but it will take several loads to accomplish as our chest freezer is very large. Once they have all been frozen and bagged for storage, the freezer needs to be defrosted.

The sole remaining hive. Son 2 entrusted me to this project and I failed hugely. I hope the hives he has at home are doing better and more knowledge on my part can be gained to try again come spring perhaps.

It’s Done

The frost bitten garden was visited and cleaned up. Hidden in the burned foliage were a couple dozen more decent sized peppers that were brought in to use up quickly, or be sliced and frozen for later. The peas were left in place so the birds or other garden denizens can feast on the remaining small peas. The garlic bed was planted out with 36 cloves of garlic, hopefully to produce 36 decent sized bulbs to dry for next year’s use. This year as I didn’t plant garlic, all we have used was purchased from the vendors at the Farmer’s Market.

Once planted, it was covered in old hay, some erosion fencing, and two heavy garden posts as the chickens often get garden time in the winter and I don’t want them digging up the bed and garlic. The greenhouse will protect the greens, but the blueberry bed still needs a shield around it before the chickens can get in. If I can get a proper fence ring around the plum, there is enough erosion fence temporarily, but not effectively protecting it to protect the blueberries from the chickens digging out the mulch that has been used to thwart the weeds in that bed. The berry barrels still need to be moved. I haven’t attempted that task yet, but it will be easier now that I can take them through the long bed once the stakes are pulled. The overwintering of the stakes is always a problem. There is a galvanized can in the garage that leaks, perhaps it can be secured in a corner of the garden and the posts and stakes stood up in it until they are needed next year.

The chickens appear to be having pillow fights now. They have more feathers in the coop and on the ground than on their bodies. Molting hens sure aren’t pretty birds, but they will be so clean and fluffy when the new feathers grow out. They start with their heads and necks during molt and that really makes them unattractive.

Crafting this week has been very sporadic. Very little spinning has been done. Some knitting on a hemp spa cloth and on a gift, but little else.

With tomorrow’s day time temperature being very spring like, the hives will be opened one last time for the season, checked for brood, stores, and given sugar cakes. Some sugar was added a couple weeks ago when the orifice openings were reduced and the bottom boards added. With nights in the freezing range, they needed all the protection they could get. Whatever happens this winter, happens, I have done all I can. In the spring, I will take the beekeepers class, so hopefully I will go into next year better prepared.

I continue to go through “stuff” making donation piles, reducing files of no longer relevant paperwork, closing down parts of the cottage business as it dwindles away to non existence by the end of the year. Life needs to be simpler, and as I said before, we need people in our lives, not possessions.