BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Beehive Porch

We finished building our hay bail walls so each hive has a horseshoe wall with the front facing the winter sun. I saw a pretty watercolor of a three hives with little porches and realized I never made a small landing board for the upper entrance as so often recommended to help them back in after winter cleansing flights. My husband got to work and this is what we came up with considering that if we did just nail a little board under the upper entrance the snow would build up. They are stapled by each corner of the top flashing to the shallow used to feed the bees and hold the insulation over winter. The flashing covers the hand-hold. Care needs to be taken that rain-water does not catch in the exposed handle and drip down behind the porch. He thought of everything but little rocking chairs....enjoy:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 3 - Winter Prep Continued

Day started in the 30's but by 3 pm it was 54 F

I'd collected pine needles from the surrounding forests and set them to dry over our heater blower to use as insulation and moisture wicking in supers above the colonies. Last year the pine needles I used made for an inefficient feeding portal sticking to the pollen patties. I tried making a screen to keep the needles up but worried a bee would find her way in and not get out.

So I bought some natural untreated burlap and made pockets for the needles by stapling it to the homasote board I also use to absorb moisture off the hive during winter and that was so successful last winter.

As you can see, I'm taking the inner cover down to the tops of the frames and putting the feeding super on top of that. I'm filling that with winter food stores and topping it off with the homasote board insulated with a pine needle pillow for wicking moisture out of the hive:

I made sugar candy for low moisture winter feeding following a wonderful recipe shared by a fellow blogger in San Francisco, but I used essential oils in Pro Health instead of vinegar.
So out to the hives!
Here is what I found -Backyard Lavendar 8 frame that swarmed:
They do not seem to like the bee tea at all. This is not the first time I've found a lack of interest. Perhaps they have a lot of honey hiding down in there.
Here is the Fusha hive on Ferncroft. They have not finished the quart size zip lock of bee tea but are still interested. Some mold has grown on the pollen patty strips I put on the frame tops:
Here is the Gold Hive Italians that over-wintered last year with such success. This time the pine needles will not fall into the hive or stick to the pollen patty strips. They sucked their gallon of bee tea dry!
Busy bees!

I've got my fingers crossed as I don't think my bees had much in the way of stores. I slaved over the stove making the candy and just filled up the inner cover with whatever they may need, but I really wish I had surplus honey to offer. Maybe in time I'll learn how to anticipate their needs. I'd like to find a good way to offer them water as whenever there is a mild day I always find some bees drowned or stranded near a puddle.