Winter weather and beekeeper’s thoughts change often


Making sugar cakes on December 3. © Erik Brown

My friend Gordon used to say that it takes three years to become a good teacher. We were teaching secondary school in Botswana, Africa at the time, preparing students for their O-level and A-level exams. Gordon said that you spend the first year figuring out the material, the second year figuring out how to teach, and the third year really teaching. Of course, I only taught for two years, so it never quite happened for me.

This may apply to how beekeepers overwinter bees as well. I read and learned much and stumbled through my first winter. As we enter my second winter I have stronger opinions about what I should have or could have done better. Next year I will be perfect. Continue reading

Eat, drink, and bee merry

In Virginia, we have six to eight weeks of summer dearth followed by an unreliable fall, so the best nectar the bees see is in spring and early summer. Last year, in my first year of beekeeping, another beekeeper told me to feed my hives in August and September. Otherwise they will eat much of their stores and not have enough for winter. Well, it turns out he was correct. Continue reading

Bee right as rain

161001c-mars-feederI am in the sky at 34,002 feet as I write this, on my way to California and thinking about my rain-sodden bees in Virginia. Northern Virginia had five days of solid rain, well over 5 inches (12 cm) of water at our house. The bees (and the people) have been huddled away waiting for it to end. As I left the house the sun peered out to see what was left of the land.

With fall firmly in place, I naturally wonder whether the bees have enough food for the winter. Last year I was able to bring my three hives through to the spring. I hope my five hives will do the same for my second winter with bees. Yesterday I provided some additional food for some of the hives to help pull them through. Continue reading

We hold these truths to bee

Our top bar hive Venus on August 9, 2015

Our top bar hive Venus on August 9, 2015

Feeling somewhat philosophical lately. Perhaps I’ve been a beekeeper so long now (4 months!) that the urge to reflect on my vast experience has come upon me. Either that or I can only provide repeated hive updates for so long on this blog, and thus want to write something profound.

Nothing profound to offer, unfortunately, but a couple musing on tools, truths, and the hives. Continue reading

Bee on the level

Top Bar Hive Forages

Foragers coming and going from our top bar hive Venus, with other bees bearding by the front entrances. You can see our Langstroth hive Jupiter in the background.

I have been in and out of the hives this month, and am a bit overdue with this update. With all the rain we’ve had the flowers continue to bloom and I can only hope the forage remains plenty. As soon as the heat settles in, probably right after our frequent rainfall ends, the nectar will likely dry up as well. Continue reading