Behind the Scenes Beekeeping: February 2017

Here’s another instalment of the amazing Cell Phone Chronicles. This one is 33 minutes long. It was recorded in February 2017. Again, it’s just me standing around my beehives talking about bees. At one point I talk about making sugar cakes flavoured with honey and then I put them in some beehives. I talk about how Russian bees go through the winter with a smaller cluster compared to standard Italian honey bees. I also talk about how great snow is as an insulator. (Most of the hives in this video are buried in snow.) There are some shots of my cat, a squirrel and other amazing things.

I don’t expect this video to get over 4 million views. I’ll be impressed if four people can sit through the whole thing. There will be more to see in these cell phone chronicles once I get into the warmer months and actually do some beekeeping apart from standing around hoping my bees aren’t freezing to death.

October 2019 Postscript: I guess I should also mention that I no longer over-winter my bees exactly like I do in this video. I still use 6mm / quarter-inch mesh on the bottom entrances to keep shrews out. I only put the mesh on top entrances when or if the snow is high enough for shrews to jump from the snow into the top entrance.

I still use moisture quilts, but I noticed a lot of heat escapes through them, so I’ve been experimenting with using burlap and cotton instead of a screen on the bottom to hold the wood chips inside the box. The burlap and cotton seem to hold the heat in better.

I’m also experimenting with using a regular inner cover with a screened inner cover hole and a ventilation rim on top. That configuration holds in heat but still allows for full ventilation (similar to the D.E. Hive sold by Gerard Smith). For some hives, I only use hard insulation over the inner cover.

I’m experimenting with various hive wraps (and some hives still don’t get wrapped). I reduce the entrances more in the winter now too.

I also don’t put rims on my hives right away. I’m working on a method of encouraging the bees to cluster well below their honey stores long before winter sets in, so that the only time I see bees above the top bars after October is when they’re running out of honey. That might not sound like a big deal, it’s a huge.

As usual, my beekeeping is a work in progress.

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.

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