No two words instill more fear or disappointment in a beekeeper than the words DEAD-OUT. A dead-out is when a bee colony dies. You go to your hive expecting to see a colony of honey bees, and instead you see nothing but dead bees.
This is the time when people reflect upon the past year and make goals for the year ahead. Want to learn a new language, lose 20 pounds, or switch your diet to 100% raw vegetables? Make these your New Year’s Resolutions! Everything seems possible in late December with the New Year just around the corner and the actual hard work of achieving those resolutions still several days away. I’m not making any personal resolutions this year, but I do have some bee resolutions that I am sharing with you. Don’t be surprised if you see some of these topics appearing in future blog posts. Continue reading
Tuesday was warm for December (46 °F/ 8 °C), so I walked to the hives to see if any bees were flying. We went into winter with three colonies of bees: Alpha (our strongest colony with ~60,000 bees in two brood boxes), Bravo (~30,000 bees in two brood boxes), and Echo (~20,000 bees in one brood box). Bees were flying in and out of Echo and Bravo, but Alpha showed no signs of life. You can check out my last post to see how we got our bees ready for winter.
Friends frequently ask me , “What happens to your bees in the winter?” What happens is an epic struggle to keep the bees alive. Some people say you aren’t a beekeeper until you get your first hive full of bees through the winter. If you buy new bees every year because your bees from the previous year died, then you aren’t really beekeeping. If you are a skilled beekeeper, your bees should have a better chance of survival than “the bees in the trees” also known as feral honey bees.