In a couple short weeks we’ve gone from winter, snow and arctic temperatures to a complete thaw.

I’ve been incredibly busy for several weeks now, which is great. But it means that writing takes a back seat. Tonight is no different. I did want to share with you an update on the bees.

Now that the temps are in the 40’s, the bees are flying. They spend all winter pent up, so at first sign of warm weather they go relieve themselves outside. About a week ago we looked at the hives from the outside. There were bees flying out of hives No. 2 & No. 3 so it looks like those two survived our cold, snowy winter. It does not look like hive No. 1, our original hive survived. We haven’t seen any activity coming or going, and no signs of bee debris outside the hive.

We will have to wait for a day or two in the 60’s before we pry the lid off of any of the hives. When we do so, we’ll start feeding them a pollen substitute and eventually sugar water as spring dawns.

Alright, I’m off to sleep. Every day is extremely busy from dawn to late at night. I’m ready for a vacation.

Hive No. 3 had a ton of bees outside of it when the temperature finally got above freezing. Notice how brown the snow is from the bees relieving themselves.

Hive No. 3 had a ton of bees outside of it when the temperature finally got above freezing. Notice how brown the snow is from the bees relieving themselves.

Hive No. 1 looks to be dead. We haven't seen any action coming or going. We'll check for sure once it's consistently warm outside.

Hive No. 1 looks to be dead. We haven’t seen any action coming or going. We’ll check for sure once it’s consistently warm outside.

Winter 2015 Photo Tour

It was such a beautiful morning I had to take 15 minutes and sneak outside to snap a few photos. The combination of snow, rain, and snow (and no wind) means that all the trees are retaining their white snow covered branches.

The landscape around the house truly is a winter wonderland.

Hive No. 1

With much apprehension I opened up hive No. 1 yesterday to see if there was anything left. Much to my surprise the bees were doing as well as could be expected. I saw a few hundred bees working diligently to repair the damage caused by the yellow jackets.

I saw hive No. 1’s queen as well.

There weren’t as many yellow jackets as there had been before, outside the hive. Inside the hive I didn’t see any. The entrance reducer, and closing up the other entrances, had allowed the remaining honey bee forces to shore up their defenses. With just one small opening they could then take the fight directly to the yellow jackets on, one at a time. I witnessed at least one or two being escorted from the entrance to meet their demise. I encouraged two honey bees to back off and personally killed one yellow jacket myself with a stick.

It felt good.

I moved all the honey I could find towards the center of the hive. The bees were busy relocating honey as well and repairing damaged comb, as best I could tell.

The wasp traps were doing their job finally. Each had yellow jackets inside. The traps, from Lowe’s, feature two chambers. The upper is filled with soda, the lower has some sort of scented pad. All the scented pad does is attract honey bees, so I have to help any trapped ones get out before they die.

The upper soda filled chamber is working well to kill flies and yellow jackets. Pepsi seems to work better than Sprite.

Hives No. 2 and No. 3 seem to be doing well, with little or no yellow jacket activity.

Hive No. 2 should be okay for the winter. As should No. 3, though it appears to be lagging the powerhouse that is No. 2.

Hive No. 1 could survive, but no way to know for sure.  The last couple days of warm weather have been a boon. And we’re feeding as much sugar-water as we can to the weakened hive. Eventually we will take the empty deep off the bottom to make the hive more compact, and reserve the pollen laden frames for spring. The bottom deep is empty so no need to keep it on stand over winter.

Wait and see. And hope for a warm winter.

Here are some pictures, including a glorious photo of hive No. 1 still alive, as well as the traps.