We had our biggest snowfall of the winter today. Actually, it was the only significant snowfall this winter. We’ve had stretches of very cold weather, without any snow. Two days ago it was sunny and warm (60 F /15 C) out and the bees were very happy. Today is the first day of spring, and they are clustered in the hive.
As such, a good time for another post on a native bee species: mason bees. These hard working bees are smaller than honey bees and prolific pollinators. My friend Tammy gave me a book on these bees for Christmas, and it inspired me to put a Mason Bee House on my birthday list.
My top bar hives in the cold this morning (March 21, 2018). ©Erik Brown
A male bumble bee in 2015 on a Purple Salvia plant. ©Erik Brown
I just finished a wonderful book about on bumble bees. Given the flowers and the bees are both holding out for some warmer weather, I thought a post might be in order. As described in my post Endless bees most beautiful and most wonderful, bumblebees are classified in the same Family as honey bees, the Family Apidea. They have their own Genus, the Genus Bombus, distinct from the Genus Apis where the honey bee is found. The word Bombus comes from the Greek bombos for “a buzzing sound” which is certainly characteristic of these bees. Continue reading
There is a saying in beekeeping circles to “be a bee keeper, not a bee haver.” It expresses the notion that we should intervene with our bees when necessary to keep them alive, as a farmer typically does with any other livestock. The measurement of success for “keeping” your bees is for them to live through the winter and into spring. It is easy to have bees and then watch them die over the winter due to lack of food or varroa infestation; it is much harder to keep them healthy until the spring nectar flow begins. Be a bee keeper, not a bee haver.
I seem to be skirting the line between having and keeping bees lately.
Dead bees between the frames of Mars. ©Erik Brown
A brief update on some recent happenings with our local bee club and my hives. We had weather in the high 60’s F, almost 20 C, on Friday. A great time for the bees to catch some relief from our sub-freezing temperatures. It was a brief respite, as Saturday’s temperature dropped into the 30’s F, near 0 C. Continue reading
It has been bitterly cold the last two weeks (at least by Virginia standards), often below 10 F (-12 C) overnight, and that is without the wind. As a young beekeeper, I worry that my hives will not handle the cold well. One or two may already have died out, for all I know. Unfortunately it is still January so we must wait. Nothing to do but publish my beekeeping goals for 2018. Continue reading
Happy New Year! Time for my thoughts on the past year; I will cover the year ahead in another post. Most situations can always be better or worse, and my beekeeping in 2017 was no exception. It is bitterly cold by our standards in the U.S. right now, so a fine time to curl up in my favorite chair and think about bees. Continue reading
It is time once again for my annual Christmas beekeeping song. This is my third year of creative genius, with past years featuring holiday classics such as I Heard the Bees on Christmas Day and The mites before Christmas. Continue reading