When daytime temps climb to 45 degrees F or higher, bees will break cluster and take flight. Their mission is to do a cleansing flight. This time of year the bees are also active with other housekeeping tasks such as removing dead bees that have died due to their age. Mid-March is a date beekeepers look forward to since the temperature is finally at a level that signals the queen to start egg production again in a way that is destined to build up the colony.
BEE COZY FOR THE HIVE
A bee cozy is a jacket of insulating material a beekeeper slips over the hives in winter. Generally, the cozy is installed in mid-November in anticipation of the harsh, colder temperatures. It’s a solid investment to insure the colony makes it through until spring. The five day forecast shows mild temperatures ahead so this should relieve some cold stress on the hive. Beekeepers also spend the winter planning pollinator gardens. I’ve already purchased sunflower seed, borage, and placed an order for a new planting of Heather.
Here is my favorite recipe for fondant. I’ve made it about three times now. When the winter temperature rises to 47 degrees F or higher, I peek inside the hives to do an inspection. The bee fondant is added right on top of the frames. The inner cover when inverted has a space that allows for the fondant to be added and still seal up the hive properly. I am always trying for a pliable fondant. I did achieve this on my third try. The bees seem to eat the firm cakes just as well as the pliable ones so nothing goes to waste. Two important tips : 1) use many bread loaf tins or even a sheet pan lined with wax paper, 2) keep the fondant layer thin (around 1/4 of an inch). Thicker layers of fondant will cause the inner cover to be propped up too high and not seal on the hive. I use an immersion blender to make sure the fondant is stirred to the correct consistency.
Books for Beekeepers
I’ve been a beekeeper for four years. I recommend attending a bee school prior to getting started. There are local bee clubs that host schools and are great resources. It’s a new way to look at the world around us. A field of clover represents the next meal for a bee. A basswood tree in the backyard is a treasure to value. My family has supported me by purchasing a two frame honey extractor for me to harvest the honey. I am interested to develop my skills in the area of making beeswax candles and perhaps lip balm. I expect to use this page to share what’s happening in my bee yard. I also hope to recommend great books for new and experienced beekeepers. In The Beekeeper’s Lament, Hannah Nordhaus followed a commercial beekeeper through a year on the road as he moved his hives from one pollinating contract to another. The book is a great summary of some threats to bee vitality and opens our eyes to the commercial honey industry.