Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bee Bedtime

The winds of autumn blow and the cold of winter is approaching and the bees will soon settle in for a long winter. It was a pretty good season for the bees: lots of moisture, moderate temperatures, and moderate mite pressure. Moving indoors for the winter, the bees remain in their hives during the cold and will venture out briefly for 'cleansing' flights whenever the thermometer breaks 50 degrees F.

The picture, above, is of a swarm that took up residence in one of my abandoned hives. The apiary where these gals settled in had been a dismal failure and I'd left the boxes for an eventual cleanup. The property owner saw me in the grocery store and alerted me to our new residents which I promptly rehoused and fed sugar syrup in the hopes of helping them survive the winter. They had built up this comb on the inside cover in the void of the hive which had half the space occupied by honeycomb frames. There was no honey to be found so they were grateful for my contribution. If the weather permits we will give them a couple more frames of filled honeycomb to complement the converted sugar syrup that they're processing belatedly into honey stores.

The population size is relatively small so it is uncertain how well they will do during the cold season. A late season swarm rarely survives the winter but with our help we hope to improve the odds.