Unusually Warm December

The weather here has been unusually warm and the bees have been flying quite a bit. I was out in the garden on Saturday watching the bees. It looked like the bees from the Langstroth hive we’re going into the top bar hive abs then going back into their hive. I am not completely sure that is what was happening, but if it was it meant they were robbing the top bar hive. Since the temperatures here are higher than normal, it is warm enough to inspect the hives.

I know that it is late in the season, but I also decided to make some sugar syrup for them. I mixed two parts sugar to one part water to make a thick syrup. I use organic, non GMO certified sugar to make the syrup. After I put the feeders in, I will need to go back after several days to see if they are taking it.

I opened up the area of the hive where the bees are living first. There was a small colony of bees and I spotted the queen. This was the first time that I had seen the queen in this hive. It helps that there are a lot fewer bees right now.

I pulled out and looked at four bars. These were the bars in the center of the living area. There was very little honey on these bars. I didn’t want to pull apart all of the bars though. The bees have worked hard to winterize their home with propolis and I don’t want to disturb everything. I closed up their living area and tried to tighten the bars as much as I could. Next I opened the feeder area and put in the syrup feeders. Then I completely closed the hive.

I spent a little more time watching the bees in the garden. There was a bit of activity with both of the hives. I did not see any more of the Langstroth bees going into the top bar hive. Hopefully that is not what I saw at all.

At this point it was time to inspect the host hive. As usual, the hive was more aggressive than the hive at my house. I checked a few of their bars and they had a good amount of honey in each of them. I still decided to put the feeders into the hive, just in case. I took out several bars with empty comb on them to make room for the feeders. There was plenty of comb, so I was able to give some to Rachel.

I will go back in several days and check to see if the bees are eating the syrup. If not, I will have to come up with a new plan to try to help the bees through the winter. I was hoping not to have to feed them, but with the weather being warmer than normal I think I am going to have to do something.

Capped Honey
Capped Honey
Small Cluster
Small Cluster
Her Majesty
Her Majesty
Host Hive Honey
Host Hive Honey
Host Hive Comb
Host Hive Comb

An Alarming Phone Call

Rachel called one Sunday afternoon and told me that she had not seen much activity from the hive. She had looked in the window and only saw two dead bees, she couldn’t see any others. I went over to check on the hive. It was getting late in the afternoon and cooling off quite a bit. I knew that I had to check quickly.

When I opened the hive I found a few dead bees. The bees looked like they were frozen. We had a couple of really cold nights. When I got to the center there was a small ball of live bees. It was getting cold and windy, now that I found the cluster it was time to close the hive. My plan was to come back when it’s warmer.

I went back the next day and met up with Mike to inspect the hive. The sun was out and the temperature was higher. The bees were active and flying today. Once the hive was open it was obvious that there was a good size colony still there.

I looked at each bar. We spotted the queen close to the center of the hive. The bees are living between fifteen bars. All of the honey in the bars adds up to about seven full bars of honey. I am hoping that they will have enough honey to get them through the winter.

It was such a relief to open the hive and find the colony alive and well!