Gone Away is The Bluebird

Yup. It’s still winter.

I hear that honey bees in the UK are starting to bring in pollen. Well, goody for them.

About an hour later:

Two days later (photo taken from inside the house):

Again from the safety of my home office window:

Here are exactly the same shots but in video form:

Both videos in this post don’t look half bad in full screen mode (and HD if you have it).

UPDATE (Feb. 12, 2012): Winston, the cat, climbing up on a slightly buried hive:

UPDATE (Mar. 08/12): I keep hearing from other beekeepers online about how their bees are bringing in pollen. None of those beekeepers live in Newfoundland. All the white stuff on the ground in this photo is snow.

We didn’t see the bees bring in pollen last year until April 13th.

21 thoughts on “Gone Away is The Bluebird

  1. Hi Philip, I’m planning to start beekeeping this year in CBS and am so happy to have found your website as I really didn’t have a clue how to start. It’s a great website showing so much of the basic information that someone like me doesn’t even know we need to know. I’m gradually reading all your posts and getting a feel for the whole experience. I did get some basic info from Aubrey last spring but didn’t feel brave enough to start last year so have been reading up on beekeeping and was pleased to see your critique of a couple of books. I have the ABC-XYZ of beekeeping but find it a bit starchy. Keep your great story going, I’m looking forward to your future posts. Many thanks.

  2. Hi Barbara,

    Conception Bay South has better weather for bees than St. John’s. I have a bunch of relatives in Foxtrap and I’ve been thinking about setting up some hives on their land. I’m looking for places to expand closer to St. John’s this year, but next year I might be out in CBS.

    I agree about the ABC-XYZ book (the old edition, anyway). It’s a bit starchy. I got most of my beginner info from David Burns. I highly recommend his online lessons and videos. By the time you get through those, and have poked around Mud Songs a bit, you’ll be ready.

    Shoot me an email any time or leave a message here if there’s anything I can do to help.

  3. Well that’s too bad regarding the comments however I hope it works out all for the best. Here on PEI there is no sign of pollen except for the pollen patties I made after seeing your post.

  4. I enjoy the videos, and pics that you post, and appreciate you letting me use some of the pics in our beginner beekeeping class. Good job…keep it up.

  5. Our weather in London has just taken a turn for the worse – it’s about 0°C and we’ve had sleet – so I hope the bees aren’t out collecting pollen now. Have to admit we don’t have snow drifts though. Respect to you and your bees.

  6. I hope that’s not the Facebook plug-in I told you about. Sorry if it is, but I haven’t had that problem. At least not yet. Still haven’t figured out the Twitter thing, but maybe I will someday. Cheers from the snowy NW.

  7. Sorry I couldn’t help you with that Twitter thing, Rusty. I still can’t figure out how it works for Mud Songs. My brother set it up for me because I’m becoming a Luddite.

    Yup, it was that Facebook plugin. But it could have been a coincidence that the SPAM arrived at the same time. Either way, it was enough for me to say the hell with it. (I actually like Google Plus, though. Go figure.)

    Anyway, I think the new comment system is working. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m not getting any email notifications. I must have forgotten to check some box. I’ll take a crack at it and respond to other comments tomorrow. I’m tired from shovelling snow.

  8. It’s -8°C with a -20°C wind chill today. More snow tomorrow.

    I’m taking bets on how many of our 4 hives make it through the winter. It’s been consistently colder this winter compared to last winter. I have concerns that the cold wind blowing into the hives is chilling the bees more brutally than usual. The mouse-proof mesh could be letting in too much cold wind as well. I guess we’ll see.

    I’d like get slatted racks for our hives to reduce the direct wind chill on the bees during the winter.

    Anyone know where I can order slatted racks online?

  9. Last year the bees began to show the first signs of life around the first week of March:

    Seeing the bees come to life after being stuck in the hives for so long is one of the best feelings I’ve had in beekeeping so far. It just feels good.

    But here’s a video I took last March on the 3rd day of spring that demonstrates how long it can take for winter to let go around here:

    In other words, I’m really looking forward to April.

    And I’m amazed that the bees can survive under these conditions.

  10. We’re getting pummelled by another snow storm — or a blizzard, very high winds, blowing snow, poor visibility. The fourth one in eight days. I’d say the hives are close to being half buried now. I cleared some of the snow off the top covers yesterday, but it quickly piled up to about another foot or so.

    I think this may be the winter we lose our first hive.

  11. I know you’ll hate me for this but it was 8 C yesterday in Vancouver and my bees were enjoying the sunshine. Many were returning with yellow pollen which I believe came from nearby witch hazels. I also spotted a number of plants, bushes and trees in bloom like hellebores and plum blossoms. I spotted a native blue orchard bee foraging as well. Don’t worry, spring is just around the corner.

  12. NL beekeepers may have it the hardest. I don’t hear from many other beekeepers who’s spring comes as late as ours.

    But at least we don’t have to deal with mites.

  13. The one good thing about beekeeping in NL is no summer dearth. Once the flowers start to bloom there is a continous bloom until the leaves drop and there after.

    Get the numbers of bees up in the spring and you are off to the races for the remainder of the season.

  14. Yes, the Jacobsonian,a smaller version of the varroa has recently been found nearby in Papua, New Guinea (http://strathconabeekeepers.blogspot.com/2011/12/australia-still-varroa-free.html) and New Zealand became infected with the Varroa in 2000. The Australian government inspects ships for stowaway Asian honeybees and tracks down Asian honeybee hives to inspect for varroa. To this date none of the Asian honeybees in Australia have had varroa. All hives in Vancouver have varroa but for me to this point it has not been a major problem. I think the future answer to varroa is hygienic behaviour where bees have shown improved grooming ability (removing varroa), group grooming and guard bees removing varroa from incoming bees.

  15. Are they truly making much head way with queen breeding to get something that is commercially viable for honey and can handle the mites?

    Chemical treatments are not the answer. Seems like it is a race to the finish between the varroa and genetic selection.

  16. In England they have been breeding for ultra hygienic behaviour for 20 years (http://www.theecologist.org/how_to_make_a_difference/wildlife/649951/photo_gallery_breeding_bees_resistant_to_the_varroa_mite.html). I kept my bees with a master beekeeper this year who has been doing the same. Most believe that it is not just selective breeding but a learned behaviour. Here is a breeder selling Varroa Sensitive Hygiene queens and a video showing VSH behaviour (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSGa9DKraGA&feature=related). I use a screened bottom board and varroa test board and this year will be checking for bite marks (VSH behaviour) on the varroa on my test board.

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