2022 Jan 8 – Winter Entrance

Today’s photo is a picture of the hive entrance to my top bar hive Saturn. You can see how the bees have blocked off part of the entrance with propolis. They often do this if the bees decide they don’t need as much room during the winter. The smaller entrance protects the hive from wind and helps keep potential intruders out.

In the summer, the bees coat every nook and cranny with propolis, gluing the hive and frames tight with propolis seals. Propolis can be hard on beekeepers, but is antimicrobial and helps protect the hive from disease, wind, and small invaders.

As you can see in the below picture of the full hive, we’ve had some snow lately, roughly 9 inches total this week (which is unusual for us). The sun has melted the snow on part of the hive. I tried to scrape off the rest but the ice was frozen solid, so it will have to stay for another day at least.

May you prosper and find honey.

2022 Jan 3 – Happy New Year

Welcome to a new year, hopefully a bit better than the last one. I thought I would try something new, given my dearth of posts this past year. I plan to post a short status and a picture or two at more regular intervals, and we’ll see how this goes. Today we had our first real snow of the season, so I thought it would be a good time to begin.

I have 8 hives overwintering, including two nucs insulated for the winter and four 8-frame Langstroth hives. You can just make out the other Langstroth hives at the top of the photo. I cleaned off the entrances to allow better air flow into the hives.

I also have two top bar hives, which are shown below.

May you prosper and find honey in the new year.

Count all the bees in the hive

Welcome to the end of beekeeping winter. With March around the corner beekeepers everywhere are thinking about spring and flowers and nectar and bees. It is common practice to worry about weather, flower blooms, hives, and equipment when you are a beekeeper, and I am no exception. Did we prepare for winter well enough to see the bees through this part of the season? Will the flowers bloom soon enough, or should I put some food in the hive? Do I have enough equipment for the year, and is it ready to go?

Hives in the snow
My hives Jupter2 and Titan2 on February 1, 2021. ©Erik Brown
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As the day lengthens, so the hive strengthens

It is snowing today. Between global warming and mountains to our west, we seem to get less and less snow every year. Which is a real shame as I enjoy the white stuff. If it is going to be cold, we may as well have snow. In a prior post I gave a rundown of my top bar hives from 2020, so in this post I share my Langstroth hives.

Langstroth hives on January 31, 2021: Pandora, Io, Calypso, Mars2, and Mercury. ©Erik Brown
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Silent Hives

It has become a Christmas tradition to post a bit of holiday poetry at this time of year. I had resolved to skip the tradition this year as I have been rather busy, then I just plain changed my mind a couple days ago and here I am. So allow me to present my latest work, for the sixth year in a row, Silent Hives.

My hives today (Dec 24, 2020) in the rain. The insulated one in front is actually two nucs sharing their warmth. All is calm. ©Erik Brown
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Put your hive records on

It has been forever and a day since I posted something here, so I thought I would share a review my hive performance this year. They are tucked in for winter right now, some hives stronger than others. In this post I will focus on my top bar hives, perhaps prompting me to do another post about my Langstroth hives in the coming weeks.

My top bar hives on August 4, 2020
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Queen Spotting

Hello family and friends! I haven’t found my way here in a bit, you would think staying home during a pandemic would give one lots of free time. As a bit of an introvert, I have quite enjoyed working from home and there is always a project to do with bees and a big yard. I was away this weekend to visit my favorite oldest daughter, and find myself with a bit of a free evening. So here are a few photos I have been meaning to share. Continue reading

Buzz!… I did it again

We humans may be isolating in our homes, but not the bees. They are out and about in Virginia, enjoying the weather, the nectar, the pollen, and generally just trying to expand the population. Yesterday (Friday) one of my hives swarmed not once, but twice.

The second of my two swarms. No idea why the swarm landed here, on the side of another hive. ©Erik Brown

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The early swarm catches the honey

The saying “may you live in interesting times” is often quoted as an old Chinese curse. It turns out this probably came from the British diplomatic service in the 1930’s rather than China, but it is apt to our situation nonetheless. We live in interesting times. March has been an especially interesting month for me, personally, and of the various stories I could tell I thought an early swarm might be the most interesting.

200317a Nuc Swarm

A swarm from my apiary on March 17, 2020 ©Erik Brown

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