It seems to be a recurring spring theme. I get busy and stop posting. So here we are in July and I have a desire to catch up. At some point I will have to translate my beekeeping notes into a post for posterity’s sake. In the meantime I will simply post about my efforts to have a more pollinator friendly yard.
When the temperature is high, the bees will gather on the outside of the hive in a practice called bearding. This removes their body heat from the inside and helps cool the hive. Sometimes bees with gather like this before swarming, but in high temperatures this type of behavior is usually bearding.
I spent some time in the apiary yesterday with some nice weather. Not too hot and very sunny. The bees were happy, as far as I could tell. Foragers are all over our cherry trees, and I saw them working the holly, dandelions, and viburnum this weekend as well. The nectar flow has definitely arrived, so an update on my hives seems appropriate.
March was colder than February here in Virginia. Our favorite weatherman said tonight that this is only the second year this has happened. The first time was last year, when we had a very warm February and a cold March. This year we had a cool February and a cooler March.
Needless to say, the flowers are off to a slow start this year, with the bees alternating between huddling for warmth and flying for joy. It seems a short post to welcome some spring and flowers into our world is in order. Continue reading
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.
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.