Monday, December 29, 2008

experimenting with plastic

i have a friend in scotland who told me that when he was a lad, he and his dad used to wrap their beehives to protect them from the harsh winters. here in illinois our weather is so erratic to wrap them can cause other problems when we have the odd warm day during the winter. when wrapped, the hives can heat up enough to start melting the wax foundations and also, the bees will eat more of their winter stores. after the below zero temps and ice of last week, we are expecting a couple of days in the 50's now! so i have came up with another idea, one to keep the rain and snow off the hives, but yet still allow some air flow circulating around the hives to help with any moisture in them. i imagine it will be best just to lift the front of the plastic sheeting off the front of the hives, on these warm days, and tuck it up over the top so the bees don't get confused. of course, this will all probably have to be modified (bricked down harder) when the weather turns nasty and windy again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

another sigh of relief!

well here in central illinois it has been a wild and wooley ride weather wise, since december 19th. we had a terrible ice storm hit at that time and i worried so for the bees! just look at the thick damn of ice on the hives landing boards! well it stayed looking pretty much like that until today! overnight we had warming temperatures and rain, so today i dashed outside, after waking and was so happy all three hives had bees flying! got busy and refilled the tophive feeders, (more on those later), and cleared out the bottom boards with my trusting thin metal rod and swept up yet more dead! i was delighted that the pink hive was still viable. i had been so worried, as i would live with alot of guilt on letting that hive get too wet before, thus weakening it! since i took todays pics with the bees flying, terrible rains have came so in an in between squall time i went out and just encased the hives in drop cloths, but leaving a bit open at the bottom in case any bees want to fly. just don't want them any wetter but will take the tarps off tomorrow if weather is dryer at all. don't want to hold the moisture in on the hives by leaving the plastic over them!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

breathing a sigh of relief....

yes a little sigh of relief. our weather has been blustery with off and on scattered showers all day. the forecast is for an ice storm tomorrow nite. i had planned all week for today to be the day for me to recheck my hives, as the forcast had been for a day with temps near 50's. well, it never did get very pleasant today and you have to be careful not to get bees all riled up on a nasty day, as they will break their winter cluster, start eating more honey, loose the combined heat of the cluster and be depleting their winter stores. so, since not very nice out i just went out and bent down low enough to get a good look at the beehives landing boards and see if it looked like they were drier. thankfully they were, so my actions the other day did help. just keeping fingers and toes crossed that the pink hive will be okay now. they had alot dead the other day, although it was encouraging to know the queen must still be alive, or i don't imagine they would have even bothered to make the cluster in the upper hive body. i guess spring will tell!each of the hives did have a few dead bees on their landing boards, which is normal and good. i think the most at one of them was 4 dead. what was also good is that these bodies appeared dry, (yipee!) and i could see no deformities, such as deformed wing virus or anything. i had got nervous toward the fall time as i had found 2 bees outside of the hives, crawling around, and these two bees had very small wings, like you would see with deformed wing virus. was really hoping that nasty virus hadn't attacked one or all three of the hives! so, keeping a close eye on the deceased this winter to keep a watch for any deformities or other abnormalities that i can see with the naked eye. peace to all who visit comfrey cottages!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

more new beekeeping mistakes!

well here it is winter here in illinois. freezing rains, and snow tonight. yesterday i decided to check the hives, as the day was rather mild, temps. in the 40's. well there were moisture issues with 2 of the 3 hives! note to new beekeepers, if you are starting beekeeping with used equipment, not only do you need to use a propane torch to sear all woodenware and boxes, but also to check that your beeboxes match up good and tight. i thought the little cracks in between my hive bodies would be filled with propolis by the bees before winter, but alas, they must have not got the job done completely as the recent rains had really caused watery conditions in the pink painted hive. so much that the bee cluster was in the top brood chamber instead of the bottom one where it belonged! yikes! poor little bees having to suffer through the learning process with their mum,me! well, poked in a stick and drug out the dead, mourned briefly, then got to work! took duct tape, ( any red green television fans out there?), sealed the two hive bodies of each of the three hives together with the tape, went to the back of the hives, (which already are tilted up a bit), and raised the back side even higher to drain out any remaining moisture, and then asked their forgiveness! hoping these actions will save the pink hive as it is certain it would have died out before spring left as it was.