New England Beekeeping journal for hives in New Hampshire's northern climate.
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.
Yes, this is me. Never used one of these before but sawing off one end
of the super was much easier than trying to pry the nails out.
Every winter I struggle with what to use for a wind break. I almost broke down and ordered one of those British hives that are double wall constructed. With the new apiary taking shape, deciding to go with all 8 frame cyprus wood hives, I realized my 10 frame boxes would be rendered useless...so why not use them as a wind block? This appears so far to be a stroke of genius. Let me know if you have some insights I've missed about doing this.
As you can see, the eight frame super in the photo to the upper right fits perfectly within my old ten frame super with just enough air gap to spare to keep the box from sweating. Sweating is a real no, no, for the bees in winter. Can cause moisture to rain down causing hypothermia. The air gap allows for the wicking away of moisture. Not positive how this works, but it has been advised in everything I've read about insulating your hives. The front is left alone so the direct sunlight can give the bees a wake up call or a quick warm up without too much heat when voiding opportunities in the winter avail themselves.
The results are a nicely stacked wind shield. I'm so happy they sit so perfectly on the base. These are just loosely stacked.
While doing this I noticed the sun shining on one side of the hive especially. I realized, like our cold drafty old office at work, sometimes it is colder inside than out. I decided then to paint the stack a dark color using my handy dandy Super Paint coupon from Sherwin Williams. Why dark? This green has an LRV of 9 and so will absorb the heat rather than reflect it. If the bees are used to sun on that side, they stored their winter supplies there. If my insulation effort causes that side to be cooler for any reason, hopefully, attracting the sun, can assist in maintaining the dynamics inside the hive that the bees prepared for. I can use this paint in 35 degree weather. A warm up is predicted so I got out there this morning and went for it.
A retired couple down the road from us, beekeepers from back in the day, offered to let me use some of their land to stage a new apiary. I hope to start from scratch and try and raise local bees. I'll begin with eight hives in Spring 2014. I'm using 8 frame, cypress hive components from Ross Apiaries in Georgia. The goal in our community is to raise local, winter hearty bees. The trend is to start with the Italian's, "brood laying fools" as Michael Bush phrases it. I currently have had experience with two colonies of these Georgian bees making it through pretty long cold winters up here.
I was going to space them apart more, but one of our state inspectors said it really doesn't matter that much. To keep them from drifting I'm grouping them in twos, spacing them enough apart to work them, and will paint them appropriately so that the bees can see a difference. Eight hives planned for spring. My Rossman shipment just arrived. I thought I'd get them set up, sealed up, ready for the bees as early as I can get them Spring 2014. The hives will have screened bottom boards, slatted racks and cypress bodies for moisture resistant support.
Now that I know a little more about what I'm doing as a beekeeper I hope to have hives survive these smaller units and be able to split them in Spring 2015. I'll be using the medium supers only as brood boxes with one medium on top for growth. That is about as big as they get up here. Then a small super for honey collection. I did not take honey off any of my hives this season. The two that died in April provided me with about 30 lbs so I'll have what I need for my winter cooking. Hopefully, my overwintered hive from 2012 and my hearty colony from this spring will make it. They are both going into winter strong.
Another Re-cap of 2013
One note: All three hives that went into winter survived through early April. The two that died in April I believe had badly mated queens. The third I left alone. I did not feed them. I made a conscious choice about this to see if on their own they could make life up here work for them, and they have. This also despite the bear attack. Out of the two colonies I installed from packages, one is hearty, one completely disappeared two weeks into September. There was healthy worker brood two weeks before, then the hive body was a ghost town. No sign of anything in any of the cells and no dead bees.
It has been rediculously cold and windy.....remarkable stark and cold; and then there is the cold...and dry, dry, suck-all-the-moisture-out-of-you dry cold.
I heard that my friend, who has kept bees in the past, went by my hives to take a listen with her stethoscope...she's a nurse. I finally decided with the warm up predicted for tomarrow I better take the opportunity to do a better clean up job of the bottom boards on Ferncroft Road.
I removed the mouseguards and this time got the intrance reducer wedged out of the stream side hive. I also had a proper tool, a thin long stick, to reach in, all the way back, and pull out the bees in their final resting place on the screened bottom board. This was advised in something I read a long time ago, maybe Bonney's book "Hive Maintenance" in an effort to help with circulation and clear the way for bees hoping to take a cleansing flight, weather permitting.
to my joy, both hives were all a buzz. The HIVES ARE ALIVE!!!!!!!!
-8F and -2 day and night for several days now! We do not believe we have seen such low temps during the day in our twelve years here.
All the bees, three hives, were bustling in 43F weather Sunday before last....Will they make it?
The wind! Wicked wind! I feel like we are living on the Alaskan frozen tundra!
PORTLAND, MAINE - Jan 25, 2013 Class at The Honey Exchange: "Bee Friendly Landscapes using Permaculture Principles and Design" with David Homa - He is a homesteader and Landscape Architect, and is building a teaching apiary on his land. They are in the same zone as us, 4b, and shady too with trees. They grow thyme all around and under and through their apiary as part of a multi-part effort to discourage mites without treating. He provided a list of good bee plants and said they start seedlings inside and just keep planting all season long to keep the blooms coming. Most all the plants he mentioned grow wild in our yard but a few are of interest like the thyme. He is not too concerned about invasive species, although he encourages responsible management of any of the plants you bring in to maintain a good balance. Comfrey is a favorite ground cover I am not familiar with but we have always tried to keep our garden as native as possible. A long drive to Portland and there is an intermediate class being held by a good beekeeper I've heard about but it would mean a 3 hour or more round trip at night five weeks in a row in Spring.