Last Day Feeding The Honeybees

Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything and a season for every activity, but yikes…did winter have to come so soon?  It was just a few weeks ago that my mums looked like this…

Summer Flowers

They looked so happy!  Did they know what was ahead?    I pruned everything in our yard a few weeks ago but I left this giant mum because of the bees.  They were loving it.  It had about 100 on it every day.  I didn’t cut it back because I knew they were still getting some benefit from it, and honestly, I would have had to suit up and fight them for it!  But today, I did cut it back.   Winter is coming and there is nothing much left for them with this plant.

Dead mums

I spoke with John of Poor Valley Bees and he said that many beekeepers are finding their hives empty of honey.   Bees have to have their honey in the winter to survive.   It’s what they eat.   Humans should only take the excess, but this year, there wasn’t really any excess.  We had less than 20 pints of honey from six hives (some were swarms that we did not expect to have honey from), but we are entering winter with all of our hives full of honey.   I’m thankful for that.

It’s also the last day we’re feeding them.  Tomorrow morning, very early, I’ll go out and remove the jars and replace the spacer in the bottom of the hive with a spacer that has only about 3/4 of an inch opening.   This will give them added protection from winter weather.  They’ll use that tiny opening to remove dead bees and their waste.   Here they are enjoying their last day of the thick, sweet sugar water which we’ve used to supplement their foraging.    The sun is shining on the face of the hive, and I imagine it to be very warm inside.  They are probably fanning the queen to keep her comfortable.    As it gets colder, they’ll cluster and keep her warm.   The barn is my wind barrier.  I love where these bees sit because they are protected from the wind and get the evening shade.  More importantly, it’s easy to walk over and check on them.  Watch them do their work.   They are so clever.    Reminder to self.  These are just insects.  

Bees 1111

About six weeks ago, honeybees attacked and killed someone doing landscaping somewhere…I can’t remember where.  It was in the news.     It’s a hard reminder that they are who they are.  Still, today, I think of them as my little pals.  They light on my hand and I look right into their little faces.   I’ll be watching out for these pals this winter.   When it gets below 15 degrees, I’ll be out with my bubble wrap, duct tape, tarp and protective cover and my little apiary will look like Shanty Town for a few days.   This is what it looked like at -8 degrees last year.  Everything was very strategic because even though the hives were covered, they could get air flow.  When the sun came out, I’d lift the tarp draped over the front and let it hit the front of the hive.   Make fun of me all you want.  My bees lived.  And thrived.  And swarmed! and I caught the swarm!

Wintering Bees 1


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