I did a quick peek at three hives today. The weather stinks, but the colonies seem to be in pretty good shape.
I have three colonies in another location that I haven’t been able to check on for a month now because I got busy and then I got sick with a flu. But the seven that I have in what passes for my little beeyard next to my house don’t look too bad to me.
This is what passes for my beeyard today (March 24th, 2020).
I don’t think I have a single hive that’s like any other hive this winter. Some consist of two deeps and a medium, or a deep and two mediums. Some have hard insulation over the inner cover, while others have none. Some have ventilation rims, one has a ventilation “box,” while another one has a moisture quilt. Some have rims to make room for emergency sugar feed, while others have empty mediums or shallow supers instead of rims. Some have emergency sugar and some don’t. Some have protein patties, while others don’t have a thing. Some have clusters over the top bars and a few have clusters so far down that I can barely see them. One is set up on the base of a D.E. Hive with the bottom entrance on the wide side of the hive, though the top entrance for that hive is on the narrow side if that makes sense. The only thing they all have in common is that they’re all painted black, they’ve been buried in snow since January 17th, and they’re not wrapped (a huge experiment and a big gamble). But they’re okay.
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 a 6-minute video that shows what happened to one of my hives that was completely buried in snow for a week or two — and by completely I mean all the entrances were blocked too.
The bees couldn’t get out for cleansing flights and made a big stinking mess of the hive, or at least their hive entrance. The 6mm / quarter-inch mesh I use to keep shrews out probably made the mess even worse. Who knows, maybe the heat from the colony would have melted the snow around the top entrance and allowed the bees to get out just far enough to poop. Maybe. But for now, especially if my area ever gets hit with an insane snow storm again, I may have to put 12mm / half-inch mesh around the entrances and hope for the best.
I discovered today that one of my hives, not next to my house, has likely been buried in snow for at least a week, maybe two. I didn’t expect this.
A hive that was probably buried in snow for a week or two, with all entrances blocked. (February 22nd, 2020.)
When I cleared out the top entrance, the smell was like rotten caplin fertiliser. Pee you. It was ugly.
Rotten gooey bee poop that had clogged the entrance along with poop-soaked dead bees that we’re cleared away. (February 22nd, 2020.)
The bees needed some cleansing flights and they couldn’t get out. I didn’t open the hive to see the mess inside because I can’t do anything about it at this time. But I’m sure it’ll make an educational video some day (stay tuned).
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:
Here’s a 6-minute video of what passes for beekeeping during a snowstorm. Specifically, it’s the Snowmageddon snowstorm that dumped about a metre of snow over my hives on January 17th, 2020. I’ll make another video that goes into the details of what I actually did to keep my bees alive during all the snowfall, but this one is just to show how much snow came down.
There’s not much to see in this video. It’s just me talking.
I may post more of these videos in the future. Even though they’re not much to look at it, they kind of paint a picture of the kinds of things I think about as I continue on this beekeeping journey, the constant adjustments required to my beekeeping practices, the non-glamorous practical things I have to deal with, but it may provide insight for new beekeepers who might be wondering, “How do I actually do this?” As usual, I’m not saying what I do is the best thing to do, but if people are able to learn from my sharing of this experience, then hey, mission accomplished.
My bees have been bringing in yellow pollen (when it’s not freezing cold and snowing like it was yesterday) for the past few weeks now. I don’t think they’ve been getting it from dandelions, but I don’t know one way or another. Today is the first time I saw a honey bee on a dandelion. I like to post this kind of info for my own records.
First honey bee on a dandelion I’ve seen this year. (May 14, 2016, Flatrock, NL.)