Monday, January 23, 2012

You might not think much is happening this time of year in the hive, but you'd be totally wrong! Lots of stuff still happens in the winter although it doesn't take much care from me.

The queen has started laying eggs again. Yikes, you say - isn't it too cold. The worker bees (the girls who emerged in October and November) are using their body heat to warm up the hive from a nice 60' to 93'F. They aren't warming up the whole hive, just the part around the eggs. And we aren't talking hundreds of eggs yet, more like a handful at a time.

The bees are going out for their cleansing flights. Bees don't pee or poop in the hive so on balmy days like tomorrow is supposed to be in our area, they will go out and do their business. If you look carefully in the picture, all the little yellow spots are ... well bee pee. Expect it again tomorrow!

And what are beekeepers doing in the winter?  We this one is missing her girls and planning the spring split. I am going to take a few frames from my strongest hive and start a new colony. I am also assessing what equipment I need to purchase, repair and build. Being one hive short has given me plenty of equipment, but I need to get better landing board/bottom board combos. Right now they don't fit. The landing board is just where the bees land when they come into the hive. While not strictly necessary, I think it looks good.

I am also going to have to make a pile of new frames. The dying hive got wax worms - {shiver} yeck!  So a number of frames are going to have the wax cut out and new foundation put in its place. I usually replace the foundation in about 1/5 of my frames each year, but this year I plan to do a bigger replacement.

Why you ask?  Well at a conference last summer I learned about all the pesticides that build up in wax and decided that this spring we will be more rigorous about getting rid of wax older than five years.

I have also been reading. A lot. Which is no surprise to any of you who know me well. The librarians all recognize my voice from "hello" when I call. I will share my reading shelf in another post!

And that is what beekeepers do in the winter.

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