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Whidbey Island Washington Beekeeping & Honeybees - Lavender Honey - Green Road Farm - Tim Walsh

Week 26 – 44 ~ Hunkering down for the long Winter

October 10 2008

Fall has slipped into place almost without notice. During the day the angle of the light is lower and at night Orion is suddenly crystal clear in the southern sky.

The bees are staying closer to home and fewer bees are out foraging. The honey and pollen that they have stored at this point must hold them over for the winter. Of course, I am here feeding them a thicker 2 to 1 (by weight) (8lbs per 1/2 gallon of water), ration syrup so I am sure they will pay homage to me next fall during the honey flow by providing me with lots of honey…we will see. The syrup is like karo syrup. I have noticed that if I do not thoroughly dissolve the sugar when I mix it that a hard sugar crust forms and the bees cannot get to the syrup.

The drones are finding themselves on the doorstep of the hive, being pushed out into the chill of fall, more or less, for lack of a good reason to keep them around. These big ol’ furry drones seem a little lost wandering around. Some just stand there looking around, some walk around and then fly off for a while and return and some venture out away from the entrance and climb around the edges..not knowing what to do. They have mated with the queen and roamed around the hive all summer and now really have nothing left to contribute….so thank you and goodbye we have work to do.

When I opened the top of the hives to give them more syrup I noticed the bees underneath the feeder had there hind end in the air and were fanning, like they were trying to draw an air current up through the hive and out the top. I am not sure this is what they were doing because they also exhibit the same behaviour when send out the alarm pheromone.

Other than feeding the bees I am not sure what else needs to be done. I don’t see any bugs or Varroa in the hives. I have been wanting to build an a-frame roof for each hive. It would keep the rain from dripping onto the entrance and look kind of cool. I might also be able to use a bigger syrup feeder so I don’t have to feed them every week.

November 3 2008

There is an occasional yellowjacket still trying to enter the hives but very few.

The bees are staying close to home and I continue to feed them about a gallon of syrup a week.

Each hive has it’s own personality but they all are a bit more aggressive toward me since I have cut back on looking at each frame. I have also not been smoking them as much so maybe that is part of it. When I do use the smoke I have been using the shake and clippings from the lavender for my burning material.

Lavender in the smoker~~~~~~

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JANUARY 11 2009

We have had a lot of cold weather and a lot of snow for Western Washington. I had sealed the hives with clear duck tape to seal the cracks where each super had contact with the next super. What I hadn’t considered was condensation. When it is cold out the bees crowd around the queen and can create temperatures of 70 degrees inside the hive. If there is no ventilation water can form inside the hive and then drop cold drops of water onto the bees killing them. Sealing the cracks were fine but there was no ventilation at the top of the hive.

I realized this after returning to the house and could not go back up for a week. When I returned there were lots of dead bees outside all three hives. I did not know and still don’t know if it was condensation that killed them or just the cold weather we had all week.

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It looked to me more like rain water had leaked into the hive rather than condensation..but what do I know?!

I cleaned it up and then went on to clean the bottom tray.

A clean hive-

The bottom tray was more difficult and quite a bit more disgusting as some of the bees had molded. There was old bees wax flaking as well.


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All three were soon cleaned up and they all had full food containers. I would have liked to find the queen in each one to make sure there is one but did not want to expose them to the cold air any more than I had to.

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