The Third Day of “Spring” in Newfoundland

It’s springtime in Newfoundland. Can’t you tell?

The last time I took a look at the bees through the top entrances, they were nowhere in sight. Normally I can see them inside walking around doing their thing, but this cold wind and snow seems to have driven them deep into the hive, probably protecting the brood from becoming chilled. I don’t know how they manage to stay alive. It’s possible both colonies could be dead by the time the weather warms up enough for them to forage and feed on their own.

Today is the third day of spring, but I call that false advertising.

March 25th, 2011: I got it wrong. The previous video was the fourth day of spring. And today is the sixth day of spring. We got 40 centimetres of snow today (about 16 inches). It’s not very interesting, but I keep documenting our winter weather so I know what to expect next year. I’m not sure if this has been an extra long and lousy winter. It might only seem that way because it’s my first year of keeping bees and, really, when you add up the actual number of days we’ve been able to hang out with this bees since we got them 250 days ago, it’s been about one-thirds beekeeping and two-thirds waiting for winter to go away. Whether that’s a normal winter or not, it’s been long enough for me.

12 thoughts on “The Third Day of “Spring” in Newfoundland

  1. I just took a peek at the bees.

    I can see only slivers of the candy cakes left over, at least the ones close to the entrances. And the one pollen patty I can see in one hive is getting very thin. It’s probably half frozen too. I sure hope they can hold on until April. The long range weather forecast doesn’t call for above freezing temperatures until the first week of April.

  2. I have noticed that over the last little while the bees have not been hanging out in such numbers around the front entrance. I am concerned that their numbers were dwindling but I think you are right Phil. The bees may be keeping further down in teh hive to keep the Brood warm. Unfortunatly I cannot get a warm enough day to take a look to see or add a couple of candy cakes.

    I am also seeing some fuzzy bees indicating that the queen is still in there. God luv her.

    The sooner it warms up the better I will feel.

    The trials and tribulations of a new beekeeper.

    • I was planning to add more pollen patties to our hives about a week before we got hit with our Second Winter. (That’s exactly what it feels like to me, a second season of winter just when it looked like spring was actually turning into spring.) The bees may be huddled deeper into the hive to keep the brood warm, but they might also be starving. The bees will not move off the brood to reach their honey stores if it’s too cold for the brood to be uncovered. They’ll starve before they leave the brood. That’s what I’m concerned about now.

  3. I have my two hive bodies, the candy board (with a hole in the centre from top to bottom). Then I have the inner cover turned upside down so the top entrance is pointing up with the hard foam over the top entrance so the bees can get in and out. Then there is fibreglass batting on top of the foam.

    If I am seeing bees between the foam and the top part of the inner cover then the bees should have access to the candy board and still maintain their warmth.

    I hope….

  4. 8:30pm. Just got in from walking around the neighbourhood. It’s pretty much a blizzard out there now. As much as I’m sick of winter, I enjoy being out in the elements sometimes, whether it’s rain or snow blowing at me. Something about it makes me feel alive.

    But the fun’s over now. I want it all to go away.

    And I’m concerned about the bees. I will be so impressed if they can live through the beating they’ve taken this winter.

  5. There is no spring in the air and looking at the winter forecast there is no break in sight. When will this winter end. My leeks are arealy 2 inches up in the pots. I’ll never get teh chance top put them in the way this winter is going.

    • …looking at the winter forecast there is no break in sight.

      I know. I see nothing but snow in my little weather forecast box in the side bar. And it looks like mid-April now before things even begin to warm up. We have garden plans, too, but what’s the point?

  6. The bees are getting desperate today. I found about 25 in the snow. I put them in my hand and kept breathing on them and 90% came back to life. Then one by one I’d place them in the top entrance.

    I came back 30 minutes later (~4:30) and there was another 30 or so that didn;t make it back into the hive. So once again I picked them up and tried it again. This timethere was so many that there was to much life in some of them adn a catter one would get defensive when I tried to pick them up by their wings.

    No stings though. Funny thing again is once the go back inside the girls disappear within the depths of the hive. They must be clustering around the brood. I have to ask Rusty about that.

    What do you think?

    • The bees are getting desperate today. I found about 25 in the snow.

      I discovered about a dozen in the snow close to the hives, dead, with with a trail of, well, poop behind them. They’re getting desperate to use the washroom.

      I came back 30 minutes later (~4:30) and there was another 30 or so that didn’t make it back into the hive.

      I doubt the colony will suffer from a loss of 30 or so bees.

      …one would get defensive when I tried to pick them up by their wings.

      That’s a good sign. Whenever I accidentally breathe into the upper entrances, the guard bees show up within seconds. But I don’t see a big cluster of bees behind them like I did earlier in the winter.

      They must be clustering around the brood.

      I have two thoughts on that. 1) That’s exactly what’s happening. The queen has been laying and now the nurse bees are more concerned with keeping the brood warm than keeping themselves warm or chowing down on sugar cakes (or your candy board). So they’re just down there on the brood keeping them warm. And hopefully not starving themselves to death — which might also be happening. 2) The bees are dying off in the cold and we’re not seeing as many bees because they’re dead.

      I prefer to go with option #1 (and not the part where they’re starving themselves to death). Either way, we’re powerless to do anything about it.

  7. I have taken to listening at the hive entrance, on a still day if you put your ear right up to the entrance you might be able to hear a faint sound like rushing water, if your not sure just rap the hive once with your knuckle this will make them buzz a bit. I haven’t opened my hives yet so I used this to check how many I have left. So far I have seven out of a possible ten, one made it through the cold part of the winter but starved (I’m assuming) a few weeks ago, was a small colony from a late swarm, another was probably queenless from what I saw in the fall, still kinda breaks your heart a little :) I hope yours will make it through.

  8. If I can manage to get a few more hives I wouldn’t mind letting a couple swarm to get a frew feral bees in the area. It would be nice to see. Don’t know if they would be successful overwintering hre in NL but who knows.

  9. I can’t believe it. It’s 1°C — above freezing! Still 3 feet of snow in my backyard and ice melting off the edges of the top covers of the hives, but slightly warm enough for a few more bees to get outside and burst and die from trying to excrete. Man, that’s hard living.

    Anyway, I just took a peek at the top entrances. The bees are crowded right to the edge. So at least I can see some of them are still alive. Hopefully their numbers are fine and they were only down on the frames keeping the brood warm during our latest onslaught of snow and cold.

    The forecast calls for a high of 2°C tomorrow. If that’s the case and there’s no wind, rain or snow, I’ll quickly crack open the hives and give them the rest of our pollen patties and candy cakes. Hopefully they haven’t run out yet.

    Next year I will definitely add a candy 15-pound candy board in late January mixed with pollen so I don’t have to feed them every 3 or 4 weeks in this cold weather. I’m pretty sure I chilled and killed a few hundred bees the first time I added some candy cakes. Exhibit A:

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