Saturday, November 5, 2016

Enough about me, it's time to get the bees ready for winter

I knew my time was running out to get the bees winterized before I would be in Omaha for the long haul so took advantage of a beautiful Monday 2 weeks ago. I plugged up the two extra entrance holes, and stapled hardware cloth over the remaining one. That really ticked them off even though I tried to explain that would keep the mice from moving in.

There is no reasoning with bees.

The next step is 'diapering' the bottom and stapling tar paper around any cracks to stop the wind. Not the prettiest job but it will help keep them warm in the winter. (I thank Bonger for all the tar paper!)

I was just amazed at all the pollen the bees were bringing in, the most I've seen in a long time, I don't know where they are finding it but you can see why the worker bees just work themselves to death. They range out miles, fill their little saddle bags with pollen and then back to the hive. I asked a lady who was selling little bottles of bee pollen how they collect it. She said they have a pollen trap, a small screen that the bees legs go through, stripping the pollen out of their saddlebags before going into the hive.

Wouldn't that be a revolting development? Can you imagine working that hard and having the fruits of your labor so rudely taken away?

"What the hey? I had it just a minute ago!"

I made two trays of sugar bricks for the bees to feed on through the winter, it took 20 cups of sugar mixed with 1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar until thoroughly moistened. A paint stirrer on the  electric drill makes this an easy job, then I spread it in two wax paper lined jelly roll pans, pressed and rolled it until packed and baked it in the lowest oven temp for several hours. Basically just drying it out. I cracked the top bars and flipped this tray over. They will come up through the cracks for food, it worked well last year and I'm hopeful for a successful wintering of both hives this year.

I put a 2" piece of Styrofoam in the bottom of the peaked roof and the only thing left is to surround both hives with straw bales. That has to be later or every mouse and shrew around would be taking up residence. I will wait till it's cold to encourage them to find a home underground. Last year I did have a possum that thought that would be a lovely home, he made a mess under the hive and tore off a bunch of the tar paper. The dogs none to gently escorted him out of his winter home.

Life is tough out in the world.

Elizabeth called me yesterday afternoon and said if I wanted to know where my bees were getting their pollen, it was at her house. She was out in her garden and found the broccoli plants were blooming again and they were covered with bees. Of course it's really hard to say they are my bees but it's possible, they range out around 5 miles. I wish I could outfit them with little radio collars and track them. I do have to wonder how some people can call their honey 'certified organic' unless they have entire acres netted to keep the bees at home and I really doubt it. But, hey, if you can get people to believe you, all the better.

So that takes me back to broccoli honey, YUM! YUM! Ya think??

Later today: I stopped at the bees on the way back from helping Bruce get the electric fence down at the pond. I had garbage bags with shredded paper to put in each end for insulation, no bee gear, it would be fine.


They ran my butt out of there so fast, a couple got in licks under my chin, I did see that they are mowing through their sugar brick so it's a good thing I have two more bags of sugar in the pantry. But they are also still bringing in pollen.

And next time I go armed.

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