Sunday, October 23, 2011

Getting ready for cold weather.

The warm days and cool nights of fall have been a welcome feel, compared to the very hot, dry temperatures we had this summer.  The Bees seem to be enjoying the cool weather too.  They are still busy foraging for whatever pollen and nectar they can find.  There are a few fall flowers still blooming, but for the most part, the Goldenrod, Ragweed and Aster have run their annual course.  In observing the hives on the morning of October  22nd, I did see a few bees returning with pollen bags full.  There are still busy, packing away stores for a long winter.

In this photo, you can see one bee loaded with pollen.
The screen shown in the above photo is a section of 1/2" hardware cloth, stapled across the hive entrance.  This is needed to keep the field mice from setting up house inside the warm hive in the winter.  Mice will nest in a bee hive, and make a mess of things if they get the chance.  The bees are clustered in cold weather, offering little resistance to mice.  Not a good thing!

Below is a close up of one of our Bees.  She was just hanging out on the side of the hive today, soaking up the warm sun.  She's healthy and shiny, just what you want to see.
Here's another shot of a happy, healthy bee.  Just getting some sun today!
 We are still feeding the hives, using a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water, making a syrup that is placed in jars above the inner cover of the hive.  The bees will store the syrup for the winter, and utilize it for food during the cold months.  As long as the daytime temperatures are above 50 degrees, they will feed on the syrup.  Any insurance we can give them this fall will help ensure they have an excellent chance of winter survival. 

All that is left to do this fall is put up a couple of sections of privacy fence on the prevailing upwind side of the hives.  Providing a windbreak for the hives is one of the best things you can do to protect them from the bitter cold winds.  It may not be necessary, but anything we can do to help our bees is important enough to us.  I will have an update when we have the fence up, and have the girls all settled in for the cold winter ahead!