I’m embarrassed that I’m almost as bad at writing the Windy Hill blog as I am at journaling. I have the best intentions. Yeah, I know about the road and good intentions. The quote reminds me of the times Mom returned home from shopping and said she “almost” bought something for me. Anyway, September is last time I updated the site. Crazy and embarrassing. Lots of things happened since then. The holidays, travel, parathyroid surgery, a new part-time job, and sadly the loss of two bee hives.
When you’re an inexperienced beekeeper, it’s a guess what happened. I hear it’s normal to lose hives in cold spells due to mites and starvation, but I hoped I would be the exception to the rule. No go. I could not have predicted the feeling of sadness when I realized that Queen Vic and Liz probably starved and froze to death. It’s one thing when you can blame a mite, but when it’s at your own hands, it just makes you sad all over as you clean out the boxes. I had sugar feeders in the hive but they didn’t work for them. Maybe too much moisture. The only hive that survived is the grouchy one with the original queen. See, I’ve been telling folks a little bit of grouch makes you stronger.
I’m not giving up. I received a new package of bees this weekend. Thank you to the hubby for picking up the buzzing box at the post office. It’s amazing that you can order just about anything, isn’t it? I had the hives at the barn next door, but since it is a new start, I moved them to what we call the clover field. There’s not a lot of clover there but they have access to a variety of pollen. The field was covered with goldenrod last fall.
The weather wasn’t optimum for bee installation Saturday. The wind was howling, and a storm was coming in with cold temps. I decided they would be better off in the hive than in the garage for several days. I don’t know that it was a good decision. Like most things with beekeeping, it’s like throwing a dart. I sprayed them down with some sugar water, shook them out of their confines, hung the queen box between the frames, and stuck the feeder in the front. I noticed right off the bat the bees were pretty laid back. With or without sugar water, they didn’t act determined to get me. I like that kind of attitude. (I can’t say the same for the grouchy surviving hive.) I blocked the entrance to a small entry and left them to hunker down before the storm.
I checked yesterday and they were still home. I gave them a little more warmth by wrapping the hive because of the overnight freezing temps. I thought it was the least I could do after kicking them out of the garage. I’ll give it a day or so, wait for the temps to be above 65, and check on the queen. She had a beautiful green neon dot on her back. She seemed to be off to a good introduction as the other bees weren’t attacking the box. Hopefully she will be a happy little queen, love the new digs, and her new tribe.
For you other beekeepers, good luck! I hope your hives survived the winter and you’re off to a good start. I have one more package of bees coming. That’s a total of three. I figure that’s all I can afford to mess up. Experimental beekeeping is not cheap. If you have any advice, don’t hesitate to share!