Friday, January 24, 2014

0 for 3

The arctic vortex killed the last 2 of our hives.  Eric had skirted the bottoms and put up extra wind and weather protection, but those plunging temps [-20 here with much lower wind chills] were too much. We started the winter with 3 hives - 2 regular sized ones  and one tiny one, tucked up well for the winter and with plenty of food.  The first hive died early in December.

Here is a pic [above] of some of the dead bees from the nuc.   You can see the queen in the center with the dark solid butt.

The temp here was 50 a few days after the cold snap [Cold snap.  Hah.  Now that's an understatement].  So we checked the bees and when we found nothing but deadouts, we cleaned them out.   There was a pair of mice in one hive.   We kicked them out and closed up the entrances so they couldn't get back in.   We pulled all the frames except for the two straightest ones in each hive.  I left those in in case we're lucky enough to get swarms this year.

The bees had plenty of candy left, so we tossed that out for the other critters to snack on.  We even saw a bee from a wild hive come to check it out.  I'd love to get those genetics!

We took all the frames inside to strip for honey and wax.   I got 7 pints of honey and about 2 lbs of wax

We thought all the colors in the comb were really pretty. 

Our next decision was whether to try again this year with bees or just throw in the towel.  Beekeeping is EXPENSIVE.  If you start, be aware that the cost for bees, equipment and extras can add up fast.   There are ways to cut costs, but trying to keep an apiary going for a few years is no small investment in money or time. Just sayin.

I love having bees.   We love what they've done for the gardens.  So, we thought we'd give it another year.  I put in an order for 2 more nucs.  They're expensive this year [$165 each], but we're getting Indiana queens and by getting nucs instead of packages, we're getting a 6 week head start, which will translate into bigger hives going into the winter.    I'd like to be able to overwinter the majority of my hives eventually and I'd also like to get a real honey harvest [60-200lbs of honey per hive]. 

Wish us luck.   Clearly we need it.

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