Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring. Almost.

It's been a few months. In that time:

It snowed a lot.

Christmas Cat brought cheer.

XC skiing was attempted and likely adopted.

This guy or girl discovered the resident cockatiel and spent 20+ minutes trying to figure out a way to enter the house and eat him.

The little yellow bird's perspective from inside the house. Imagine a cockatiel-about-to-die death scream as a soundtrack.

To get a colony of bees to survive a long and cold and snowy winter in Minnesota you first cover the brood boxes with a black cardboard box. The box has a waxy surface to repel water and at the top is a special board for wicking away moisture.

And to keep the garage roof from collapsing and the bee entrance clear, heavy equipment was required.

Beyond that, leave them enough honey to eat (we didn't harvest any this year) and they'll vibrate in a bee survival ball within the hive until it's warm enough to...

Take a big *#! or go on a "cleansing flight" on the first day warm day in the new year. Bees are hyper hygienic and don't excrete waste inside the hive. During the cold winter months that must get uncomfortable. After not hearing or seeing peep from the bees for 2+ months we expected the worst. Then on a warm day in February they came out firing. Imagine a few thousand little insects projecting, what looked like tobacco juice, into the snow surrounding their home. And also their dead friends, or more like colleagues for the common cause, had to leave the hive as well.

Again, it was a big relief to see our that our insect friends had survived the winter, this far at least. Many checked out the snow and returned to the hive.

Now that it's late March and the temps are up it's not uncommon to see a bee or five out for a flight. We added some granulated sugar over wax paper to supplementary feed in February (just in case their honey reserves were low). They were probably fine but it's like being over protective of a first child. It looks like snow, but this is their sugar pile. It looks like they're enjoying it.

Today we un-winterized

checked the honey reserves

and added a pollen patty for some food to last until things start growing around here.

It may be morbid or borderline cruel at times, but being hygienic the bees were busy bringing out the dead.

Flowers for the next post.