|Gone but not forgotten, lush Ferncroft... now just a red clover monocrop.|
An entire ecosystem destroyed through an agricultural easement
- ground nesting birds, amphibians, native pollinators, monarch butterflies...
and my bees once thrived here.
Here are what I think make up the traits of a healthy honey bee colony based on observations in my apiary over four and five seasons - 2013 to 2017 - with nine colonies I acquired after they had survived previous winters with beekeepers farther north than I. These colonies demonstrated continued success at overwintering and honey production with no chem or other treatments for mites in what was then a lush remote environment in the subarctic plant hardiness zone of Wonalancet:
CHARACTERISTICS OF ACCLIMATED, NORTHERN HONEY BEES
*POPULATION: Conservative population consistent with limited forage in a short foraging season
*QUEEN: Overwintering Queens begin laying in March
|South vs North capping styles|
*FORAGING: Efficient collection of early to late season nectar and pollens in colder temperatures. Bees know what to find and where to find it.
*GUARDING: All vulnerable hive entrances well guarded
*RESILIENT: Diseases are not lethal to the colony
*CAPPINGS: Northern honey bees learn from their sister-caregivers how to cap honey by leaving a space under the cap to accommodate freezing temps. This helps prevent crystallization over winter. This is not genetic behavior but learned behavior. Southern bees lay the cap on a full cell. Biologist have studied this phenomenon for many decades in Europe by requeening southern bees with northern queens. This seems to explain why so many packages from southern climates, despite being requeened with northern queens in New Hampshire, starve clustered over crystallized honey.
Hearing so much at meetings about how hard it is to keep bees in our northern climate I have found the study of honey bee biology to bring the joy back into my inspections and investment of time and care.
There are valid studies done by real scientist that may not match up with what we see in our hives, or think we see in our hives - but when they do there is a victory for a beekeeper learning their craft.
Do always keep in mind the "citizen science" factor when reading beekeeping blogs. Look into research affiliated with universities and if possible or important to you, try and find out where the funding for the research or the video came from. There are some surprising agendas out there inconsistent with raising healthy honey bees or raising them humanely.
Here are some links and other references to information I shared at a talk with CABA - Capital Area Beekeeper's Association, last Friday night. I was prepared, and a little scared, to speak to a large, experienced crowd, but found a great many of the audience to be in their 1st season of keeping bees and it was a very rewarding experience.
|Menu for my bees in|
plant hardiness zone
- PDF: Life-history traits of wild honey bee colonies - Thomas Seeley
- YouTube - Varroa Resistance: Seeley at the UK National Honey Show 2018
- NH Plant Hardiness Zones
- Walter Haefeker on Pollinator Friendly Farm Equipment
- Randy Oliver: “Old Bees/ Cold bees/ No bees?” – ScientificBeekeeping.com
- YouTube: Ron Hoskins - Bees Immunize Themselves
- Guelph University Ontario Bee Lab & Paul Kelly videos
- Anita Deeley's "Beverly's Bees" - A great source of New England beekeeping how-to info
- Biology of Wintering Bees, Medhat Nasr PhD, NY Bee Wellness
- EAS - Easter Apiculture Society annual education week
- Hive Management by William Bonney, Massachusetts Beekeeper
- "Bees" I. Kalifman 1953
- Honey Bee Democracy by Tom Seeley
- Honey Bee Biology & Beekeeping by Dewey Carron
- Bee Culture Magazine
- American Bee Journal