Friday, November 27, 2009

Mother/daughter bee time...

We were very lucky to have beautiful 55F degree sunny weather on Thanksgiving Day, right when my older daughter was visiting us! Unusually warm nice weather for late November here! She has a degree in entomology and has done honeybee research at Cornell U., so I felt very fortunate to have her take a peek inside my hive. I also felt she would bring 'good bee karma' to my hive. This day I planned to remove the last syrup feeding and put in some dry sugar as a little extra insurance against my bees running out of their stored honey supplies during the coming winter. Soon it will be too cold to open the hive at all until Spring.

My daughter is the younger one in the red skirt, working the smoker.... ;)

I was so happy to have this pleasant little time to be a mother and daughter 'beekeeping team' together. I was so proud to show her my bees! She said they appeared to be healthy bees and they looked to have some good honey stored up for the cold winter ahead.
Here I've already removed the old syrup baggie feeder from inside the hive, and we have gotten the bees to retreat a bit so we could lay a sheet of newspaper on top of the frames and pour some dry sugar on. I chose to give them this extra sugar food supply for this winter because the hive has recently been consolidated and moved to my house, which must have caused some amount of stress for them. In future winters I anticipate that they will have full larders of honey stored and will hopefully not really need such sugar feedings. But I wanted to give them every chance to survive their first winter here in their new location.

After pouring in ten pounds of sugar, I trimmed the newspaper that was sticking up at the edges. Notice I left gaps in the front and back of hive so the bees could maneuver in and around the frames, sugar, and top entrance.
Then I sprayed the sugar surface down with some water to which I had added a small amount of lemongrass and spearmint oil, so they would view it as food rather than as debris to be carted away grain by grain. Bees are very fond of lemongrass oil.

Here we have successfully finished our little hive chore and the bees are basically set for the winter.
The only thing left for me to do is to wrap some tarpaper around the hive to protect from cold wind drafts. I'll do that when it gets a little colder and we no longer have any 50 degree days.

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