Bees know more than books

Happy 2019 from snow-covered Virginia! It’s been a warm winter thus far; this weekend is the first we’ve seen of the white stuff. When the weather is cold, I prefer to have snow.

My 2018 was a busy beekeeping year, much of it not in my apiary. Since I haven’t been so diligent about recording my adventures here, I wanted to summarize the year with my first post of 2019.

190113 apiary snow

My hives Saturn, Mimas, and Atlas this morning on January 13, 2019 after a night of snow. ©Erik Brown

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All kinds of hives make an apiary

Spending the afternoon inside today: a good time for a new post. Beeswax is melting on the stove, my darling wife is crafting, and I am sitting in my favorite chair typing on a keyboard. Given that my blog missed much of the beekeeping year, this post summarizes where I ended up in terms of hives.

181013c Apiary

My hives on October 13, 2018. Lower right is Titan; on the left Saturn, Mimas, and Atlas; and in the back is Pandora, Venus, and Calypso. ©Erik Brown

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To the bee a flower is the fountain of life

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.

I haven’t seen a monarch butterfly in our area for years. This one arrived while I was looking at our first sunflower bloom of the year. Hopefully we will soon have some caterpillars on our milkweed plants (the only food monarch caterpillars eat). ©Erik Brown

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Definition: Bearding

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.

Bearding

My top bar hive Saturn on July 1, 2018 at 8 pm in the evening. Temperatures were above 95 F during the day, with a heat index near 110 F. Most of the bees are gathered above the entrance, though many are also hanging below the hive.