Monday, January 14, 2013

a lull in january

Robert Frost has a poem which begins:  "From where I lingered in a lull in March outside the sugarhouse. . ."   Today was a "lull in January"  The temps were pleasantly warm.  I saw the sun.  I finished taking down all the outside Christmas greenery and lights without wearing my coat.  The grass has shown up again from under the sledding run.  So it seemed a good time to make a quick check on the bees to see what was going on inside the hive.  
So it is also a good day to go through the camera and download a few stray photos from a little earlier.  The first set of photos here are from my last close up check on the bees in late November--followed by what I found today.

Trekking down the hill in my chicken boots.  They keep
the bees out, too.

With smoker, pail of tools, and a spacer frame.

That pen is where I keep chicks on warm days just after
they have hatched.

No activity in the hive top feeder.  So it was time to take it
off for winter.  

Prying off the feeder carefully.  It is made of

Puff of smoke before I expose all the bees.

Looking to see how much honey they will have to last the
winter.  I kept the veil on because they were all in the
hive, no bees out flying in the cold air.  And they seemed
a little angry at my prying.

This frame has a lot of honey.

Lots of activity on the honeycomb.

Honey is usually on the top of each frame.  This honey is all capped.
The bees are working on some brood on the dark area.

I got a good look--but no photo of the queen.  I still
struggle with taking photos with gloves, and with
getting my camera all gooey with propolis.

It is so pretty to see all that honey.  But I wish the frames
were solidly filled.  I am not sure there will be enough.

Another good picture of the bees at work.

This is why I put on the spacer.  It gives
me a little room to put "bee patties" on
top of the frames.  I put them on a little

Half a frame of honey.  Remember that I had two major
swarms late in the season, so I am short on bees and honey.

John built this wonderful roof with real slate and lots of
details, but it turns out to be a bear to lift.   But it should
shed the snow and give some extra insulation.

Little red wagon with bee supplies.  The sprayer is filled
with Honey B Healthy water.  It seems to calm the bees.

This from November still:  The bees moved right out
and confronted me and kept busily at work.

The bees are solidly down between all the frames.

The spacer has a hole for ventilation and for the event of
snow piling up and covering the lower entrance.   I think
they might use this more for cleansing flights as the
cluster moves up the hive bodies.

A closer view of the upper entrance.

A little housekeeping--dead bee removal.

GrayC came down to watch the proceedings.

My beekeeping assistant resting on the chicken pen and GrayC

 Now to today--my January lull in winter check.  Notice the difference in activity and amounts of bees. But I feel like there will be enough honey to get them through.  There are not as many bees to feed, and
if we keep having unseasonably warm temps, they may just make it through.  We didn't want to pull out any frames filled with bees and expose them to the cold.  The frames we did move were mostly just

There is quite a pile of dead bees, inches thick, out side their
door.  I scrape them off the floor with my hive tool occasionally.

Lots of bees on this frame, but not too much honey.  So I took
some of the fuller frames from the outside edges and moved
them in toward the cluster.

This is the size of the cluster all in the top hive body.

These frames are looking empty of food.

There is uncapped honey here.  I wasn't looking for a queen
today, just to see if there was still food and activity.  Looks
good enough for January.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

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