Winter Beekeeping with a Vengeance

Subtitled: Checking on Bees That Were Buried in Snow For More Than a Month

I still haven’t posted a video of the big storm from January 17th, 2020, that buried most of my hives, but it’s coming. It’s a spectacle, not really a beekeeping video.

This is what my “beeyard” looked like on January 18th, 2020.

In the meantime, I’ve put together two videos of the same thing — a 7-minute video for people who just want to see the bees and not hear me babble on about stuff, and the 25-minute unabridged version of the first inspections I did with these hives since they got snowed in over a month ago. It’s longer than the typical killing-time-at-work video, but it may be worth a look for new beekeepers who want to get into the nitty-gritty of winter beekeeping. I cover a lot on ground in this one. (Watching it in segments and coming back to it throughout the day might be the best bet.) It’s interesting how snowshoes have become standard beekeeping gear for me since the storm. And by interesting I mean annoying.

Here’s the highlights reel:


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A Rat Gnawing on My Beehive

Some of you may have heard that the eastern part of the isle of Newfoundland where I keep bees got dinged with a massive snowstorm on January 17th, 2020. The official forecast called for about 90cm (3 feet) of snow. But with winds hitting about 120km/h (75mph), more than a few snowdrifts were taller than me.

I’m guessing a rat did this (January 26th, 2020).

The city of St. John’s and surrounding municipalities were under a State of Emergency for about a week. Everything was shut down. I couldn’t check on some of my hives until the roads were passable nine days later. This is what I found when I checked on them:


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The Jigs and Reels of Installing a Nuc in Newfoundland

Here’s a 20-minute video that documents what it’s like to get a nucleus colony (or a starter hive) on the island of Newfoundland. It’s not always easy. (I’ve also posted a 6-minute version for those who want to cut to the chase.)


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Hive Inspection: Adding a 2nd Deep (July 2018)

2020 Introduction: This is one from my archives that I didn’t plan on posting, but what the hell. It’s a hive inspection from July 2018 while I still only had a single hive in my beeyard. My other seven or eight hives were still being cared for by another beekeeper while I was recovering from a concussion. The colony in this hive wasn’t strong.

June 2018 Beekeeping Archives

This may be the longest and the least interesting video I’ve ever posted. So if that doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will. It’s a 30 minute cell phone video from June 2018 when I still had only one hive… Hold on. I just checked it. It’s only 27 minutes long. Oh well. Anyway, the last 15 minutes of the video show a full hive inspection of a single-deep hive. There’s a lot of talking in this video. A lot of semi-nonsensical ramblings too. I admit that I get a little loopy when I’m overheated in a bee jacket that leaves my glasses sliding off my nose from all the sweat dripping off my face.

If you saw my previous month’s archive from May 2018, you’ll know my one colony was in pretty sad shape then, and it doesn’t get much better for the month of June. This weak colony should have been combined with a stronger colony. But I only had one hive, so tough luck. It illustrates why it’s always better to have at least two hives (two colonies) instead of one. With only one, you’re stuck with what you’ve got and there’s not much you can do about it. All the tricks in the book are unlikely to get a weak colony to grow into a strong colony.

Single-Hive Beekeeping From May 2018

Here’s another one of my behind-the-scenes videos. It’s 13 minutes long. Most of it, if not all of it, was shot on my cell phone. This is the stuff I normally throw away, but some people have expressed an appreciation for this kind of thing, just uneventful everyday beekeeping activities. I’m pretty sure these kinds of videos are contributing to the lack of interest shown in my blog lately. Which is fine. I like this quiet time.

Despite the colony in this video being pitifully weak, it did seem to bounce back a bit about 10 days after the inspection shown in the video. Here’s a photo from a hive inspection I did on May 19th, 2018:

This colony isn’t in great shape, but it’s looking much better than it did 10 days ago. (May 19th, 2018.)

Postscript: Yup, the video has some typos in it. That happens sometimes when I rush to get something together over my lunch hour at work. I’ll fix it later.

February 2018 Beekeeping Archive

Here’s an 8-minute behind the scenes video from February 2018 of me messing around with my bees.

Here’s the breakdown:

00:00 — Giving the bees a patty of crystallised honey.

02:15Stethoscope vs thermal imaging camera — determining the location of the cluster with each and explaining how that works.

04:25 — Giving the bees a pollen patty buttered with honey. I discuss the pros and cons of feeding pollen in the early winter.

07:50 — Running away from some defensive bees.

Check out my Month of February category for a sense of things that might happen for backyard beekeepers on the east coast of the island of Newfoundland in the month of February.

January 2018 Archives: Hard Honey & Hard Sugar

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.

Related posts: Feeding Honey Bees In The Winter With No-Cook Sugar Bricks and Recycled Honey: Feeding Bees Crystallised Honey (in Jars).

Check out my Month of January category for a sense of things that might happen for backyard beekeepers on the east coast of the island of Newfoundland in the month of January.

Seems Like a Lot of Drones For December (Archival Cellphone Footage From 2017)

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.
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