Mid-winter stretch

February 15, 2007

  I just did a Google search for “sorry I haven’t updated” and “blog”.  26,800 hits.  Well, procrastiny loves company, as they ought to say.

In my defense, while I haven’t updated this bee blog since September, I haven’t actually been as lazy a beekeeper as I have been a lazy blogger.  I’ve been into Healthy Hive 2 a few times, and the girls are doing fine.

First, I grabbed the honey supers in late October.  There were three boxes of comb on the hive, but only one was full up.  This is a pretty weak showing.  Last year, I had 9 boxes between two hives.  I’m not 100% sure why the harvest was so low this year, although I imagine it’s because either 1) I’m a bad beekeeper or 2) it was a dry summer.  My money’s #1.

For those of you waiting for your jars of Hive Mind honey, it ain’t that I don’t love you.  Truth is, I’m such a lazy beekeeper, I haven’t actually extracted the honey from the comb yet.  It’s sitting in my basement, ready to be harvested as soon as I get off my lazy ass.

Well, not completely lazy.  I remembered that I last year, I didn’t check in on the girls all winter, and when I finally did pry open their coffin…errr…hive, I found a decaying, moldy mess of bee carcasses.  Wishing to avoid the same mistake, I cracked open the hive in late January, after the inches high snow drifts from our Seattle-style blizzard had cleared.  As I feared, it weren’t pretty.

As you can see, my first hint that all was not well at Casa Beehive was found at the front door. See those tracks coming and going below my lovely logo?  That’s shit. Now, I’m not saying it’s a sure sign of the death of the hive or imminent doom or anything, but let me ask you this: would you want big streaks of shit leading up to your front door?  I didn’t think so.

Inside the hive the same ugliness I found last April.  Jonestown-style piles of dead bees layered in with a thick carpet of mold.  In fact, it had grown so high that it covered their front door.  I figured what had happened is that during the cold spell, a number of bees had died.  Once it warmed up, they were blocked from cleaning up the carcasses by the sheer number of them.  Again, they’re bees and not humans, so I don’t want to draw too many parallels here, but would you want carcasses layered in mold piled up in front of your front door?  You see where I’m going with this, then.

Fortunately, cleaning up stacks of corpses isn’t really a big deal when they’re less than an inch long and you’re roughly five foot six.  I scraped the bottom board clean, flipped the entrance reducer so it would still keep them warm, but give them a bit more room to come and go through and declared them ready for rewintering.  I checked one of the frames on the way out, it looked fine.  From the heft of the boxes, they’ve still got sufficient stores of honey to make it through the winter, and there was just a bit of mold on a few cells, nothing they won’t be able to clean up in no time.

This was all back about three weeks ago, and they’ve been doing awesome ever since.  Every warm day, they’re out buzzing and humming, hauling in pollen on their little legs, occasionally following me into the house and harrassing the cat.

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