It’s Pooin’ Time

Even though there’s still three feet of snow in the backyard, the temperature went up to 10°C today, which I have discovered is the magic temperature that triggers to bees to get outside —

Fresh honey bee poo (March 31, 2011).

— and poo. They’ve been holding it in all winter, so who can blame them? ‘Tis the season for cleansing flights.

I noticed bees crawling in the snow all around the backyard. Some I could see were freezing to death in the snow. So I picked them up and brought them back to life from the warmth of my hands.

Honey bee warming up in the cold (March 31, 2011.)

It’s difficult to get in close and focus properly with these micro shots when I can’t see what I’m doing from the glare off the snow, but if the photo was in focus, you’d be able to see all the fuzzy baby hairs on this bee. Small fuzzy bees = young bees = the queen has been laying? I hope so.

Bees at the bottom entrance of Hive #1 (March 31, 2011).

The bees in both hives were rushing out of the top and bottom entrances to get outside. The bees landed on me whenever I got close. They were crawling all over the camera half the time. More than a few landed on my head and pooped all over my hair. (Note to self: Where a hat next time.) Beekeepers in late winter must be like heated Porta Potties to honey bees. Nobody likes to go on a cold toilet seat, and it seems honey bees are no exception. Let’s roll the video, shall we?

December 2018 Postscript: I don’t worry about bees dying in the snow anymore. Bees die all the time and that’s the way it goes. Many bees leave the hive and die in the snow or die sitting on a rock or a flower — and I don’t do anything about it because bees that are dying are usually dying for a reason. For instance, they could be sick. Sick bees are thrown out of the hive or will leave on their own so as not the spread disease to the rest of the colony. It’s all the rage these day to “save the bees” by doing things like feeding individual bees droplets of sugar syrup so they have enough strength to fly back to the hive. But that bee could have picked up poison from some plant sprayed with a pesticide, and once it returns to the hive after it’s been “saved,” it will pass on that poison to other bees in the hive. I fear that many actions taken by new beekeepers who want to “save the bees” are doing more harm than good.

10 thoughts on “It’s Pooin’ Time

  1. I’m not getting my hopes up, but it feels like spring today. My backyard thermometer reads 17°C which has to be wrong, but either way, it’s warm and the bees are out in full force again.

    If this weather keeps up, I might be able to put a feeder on by next weekend.

    I won’t officially declare that spring has arrived until all the snow is gone.

  2. I’m so looking forward to the spring weather and rain to start claning things up and melting snow.

    Time for spring to come and for the bees to prosper.

    • Has this been an extra long winter? I can’t tell. Sure feels like it’s been dragging on.

      My bees are still prospering, I suppose, but if the weather was warm now, they’d be out in full force. They are eager to bust out.

  3. I saw the first flowers for the year yesterdayday. These little yellow ones that stick close to the ground. You see them growing along the sides of the roads.

    My tulips and daffodils are soming up too. So it is nice to see the options.

    I think I will put the 3rd super on for now so the young bees can build some comb before everthing gets going. That way when I make the split I may have some comb to spread around to get the new hive off to the races.

    • I’ll take photos of the first sign of life I see. All I see behind my house now, though, is a field of white. Same in front of my house. Ain’t nothing coming up through that.

      Is it warm enough to put a third super yet? And by super you mean a medium super above your regular 2-deep brood chamber?

  4. Sorry I intent to put a hive body on top. Just to get some brood comb going before the split. Once there are several hives then I will add a medium super. You still have that plastic foundation there for me too, right?

    Man I so what to see the girls out flying.

  5. I still have some medium plastic foundation. Enough for 20 frames, I think. I’ll have to check. But yup, you can have them.

    I may eventually get more, a small amount, so I can do an experiment to compare how quickly the bees refill a foundationless frame vs. a conventional frame. But that won’t be until later in the summer. I can throw a few in my next Beemaid order, no biggy.

    Are you coming in on the 26th for the A-man’s short talk at The Rooms? I can give you the foundations then.

  6. Poop inside the hive = a dying colony. I also think it means a queenless colony. My thinking is that when a colony becomes queenless at a time of year when it can’t requeen itself (late fall and winter), the workers lose their sense of purpose because without a queen or brood or anything to forage for, they have nothing to do. Their normal drive and survival instincts evaporate and they end up doing strange things like pooping inside the hive. That’s why whenever I see lots of poop inside the hive, I know that colony is a goner.

    I could be wrong. Perhaps the bees get nosema and then dysentery — one way or another, dysentery is definitely a part of the equation — and then the queen dies. Either way, poop in the hive means they’re dead.

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