I’ve been experimenting with drilling holes in my foundation so my bees can move from one frame of honey to the next in the winter without breaking cluster.
The bees reduce the hole to the size of bee space. It some cases they seem to fill in the hole altogether. They seem to keep it open closer to the brood nest, though it’s difficult to judge that this early in the game. I suppose the bees can open and close the holes as needed. But whatever is going on, it doesn’t seem to bother the bees and I imagine it helps them move between frames in the winter.
It’s possible the holes could create an unwanted draft in the winter, which means this modification to the foundation would do more harm than good. But I’ve been doing it for four or five years now and so far so good. None of my colonies have starved to death over the winter by not being able to move between frames of honey.
I stole some comb honey from my bees for the first time in about three years.
The bees quickly drew out and filled the comb soon after local fireweed came into bloom, which makes me think it’s mostly fireweed honey. Pure fireweed honey is virtually colourless. It almost looks like it’s made from sugar syrup. I’ve only tasted it once in Newfoundland from hives set up in Logy Bay. I’ve tasted other honey in Newfoundland that claims to be fireweed, but the colour and taste of it makes me think it’s a mix. A pure varietal honey in Newfoundland, with wild flowers growing everywhere, seems unlikely.
Many backyard beekeepers seem to go into a panic about providing water for their bees. I don’t see how it’s even a problem in a wet place like Newfoundland. But I guess we have dry spells from time to time and it might be a good idea to keep water out for the bees so they don’t congregate around some neighbour’s swimming pool.
A bucket of water and peat moss. It might work after the peat has begun to rot, but I gave up on it.
I was semi-profiled by The Gazette at Memorial University in December 2018 (I work with a film & video production crew at the university). It could be a collector’s item some day because it’s one of the rare instances where I gave someone permission to publish a photo of me. I was asked some general questions about beekeeping and I gave some general answers. The Gazette didn’t have room to published the full Q&A, but I do, so here it is:
Why did you begin beekeeping?
I stumbled onto a gardening blog written by a guy who kept a few beehives on the roof of his apartment in Chicago and I thought if he can keep bees in a cold, windy place like Chicago, then I should be able to do it my tiny backyard in St. John’s. The more I looked into it, the more fascinated I became with honey bees. That was almost ten years ago and I’m just as fascinated today as I was back then.
I’ve got another shot of archived cell phone footage, this time from January 2018, most of it showing how I feed sugar bricks and crystallised honey to my bees in the winter. It’s only 3 minutes long.
What else can I say about this video? It was recorded at a time when I only had one hive because I was still recovering from a concussion injury and one hive was better than ten. The hive isn’t wrapped. The bottom entrance has 6mm / quarter-inch mesh on the bottom to keep shrews out. There’s a 2 or 3 inch rim on top to make room for sugar bricks, and on top of that is a moisture quilt, which is basically a ventilation rim with screen stapled to the bottom and half filled with wood chips.
We’ve got yet another instalment in my tedious series of cell phone videos, this time covering December 2017. It’s only 5 minutes long.
Nobody’s watching these videos, but I like them because they give an honest look of what beekeeping is really like. Most of the time I’m just standing around watching the bees, trying to figure out what’s going on. Continue reading →