Monday, February 9, 2009

Belly Up... the (sugar) bar.

This unseasonably warm weather has brought out the bees. Bees are meticulous house keepers and use warm (over 50 degrees F) days to fly around outside to take care of "business" and also clean out their hive. I added to their mess this afternoon by slopping the sugar syrup I cooked up for them, but they didn't seem to mind. This hive headed into winter in good shape and they probably didn't really need the extra food, but it gives them a little extra boost and you know no one goes hungry around here ;-).

I periodically walk back to The Frog Pond to check our hive throughout the winter. If it's cold I obviously don't see any bees, so what I like to do is put my ear right next to the hive and tap the hive lightly with my finger a couple times - like knocking on their door. Inside, what starts as a light bzzzzzz turns into a much louder BZZZZZZZ. I love that sound because it tells me they are okay. When I walked out to the hive yesterday, in the warm sun and 60 plus degrees, I could hear the hive from almost 10 feet away. No need to knock.

So what do they do all winter? How do they stay warm? During cold weather the bees cluster up together inside the hive and generate heat by shivering or contracting their wing muscles. Even in freezing weather, the inside of the cluster will maintain a temperature range of 57-85 degrees. When the queen starts laying eggs, midwinter, the temperature in the cluster surrounding the eggs and brood raises to around 93 degrees*.

I think that's just amazing!

*The Beekeeper's Handbook


Jennifer said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures. A friend sent me the link because she thought I'd be interested - and I was!

How long have you been keeping bees? What was your start up costs? Any advice or books that someone who is interested should look in to?


thecrazysheeplady said...

We've only had our bees for three years, so I am by no means an authority on anything, but I'm enjoying learning as I go. Some good tips I can give you would be 1. find a local beekeepers club to join. 2. Read as much as you can - books and internet.

Speaking of books, Sue Hubbell's A Country Year and A Book Of Bees are great fun...and educational.

Kara said...

That is amazing! Great photos! My husband wants to keep bees at some point...all in good time. We are getting ready for maple syrup season here.

Dana and Daisy said...

Steve's dad was a bee keeper. He has no affection for the activity, but I think it would be fun, as long as no one got stung!

People all around the county would call Steve's dad and say, we have an infestation, can you come help, and he'd don his bee suit and off he'd go.

Just curious, do you strain all the honey from the comb or do you bottle it with the comb intact?

Nancy K. said...

OMG! I am SO afraid of bees~!!!

I'm thinking it may even be a true phoebia! (Phoe-BEE-a?)

Even the pictures made my skin all creepy-crawly!

But I love honey, so I'm glad that somebody likes bees!


~Tonia~ said...

I have always had a facination with bees and ants. Loved going to the zoo in the insect building and watching them for hours on end. Kevin talked about getting some bees until we noticed that there was a ton of them around last year. He said some one must have a hive or there is a natural one around. Either way we were very happy to see so many of them.

DayPhoto said...

I'm amazed! You know and do so many things! We use Orchard Mason bees and lately I have seen a few bumble bees so I have been studying up on those ground dwelers.


Peacecat said...

Nice! It pleases me to see healthy bees and it REALLY pleases me that someone else is keeping them. (:
I thought your "Belly Up" post had to do with your sheep. Surprised me a bit to see bees! I'd forgotten that you kept them.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Love your heading!!!


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