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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Dangerous Time for Bees in the Mid-South

If a hive is going to fail in winter in Atlanta (in the mid South), now is when it will happen. Between now (early January and the middle of March we have crazy weather.

The good news is that it isn't so cold on many days and the bees can leave the hive to relieve themselves.

The confusing part is that with it 70 degrees as it was today, they might think we are closer to spring than we are. With global warming, last year, the red maple, which usually blooms at the end of February, was in full bloom in the middle of January. The bees then have a pollen source and think maybe it's time to build up. I do see bees fully laden with pollen going into the hive on these warm days.

Then as frequently happens we have a hard freeze for a week or so and they are confined to the hive again. By now the bees may be quite low on stores, raising young, and they starve to death.

The worst snow in the 30 years I've lived in Atlanta occurred on March 13, 1993 - it could certainly happen again. It is not unusual for us to have quite cold weather when one would think it is spring. We had a very hard freeze for several days in April a couple of years ago.

So now is the time, at least in the mid South, to watch colonies and check for weight to know if the honey stores are strong enough to make it through these roller coaster months. And to feed the bees if the stores are low. Because we are feeding to help in the event of cold, cold weather conditions, feeding should be done in something like a baggie feeder inside an empty hive box above where the hive cluster is probably hanging out. This weekend I'll probably be supplying sugar syrup to a couple of my hives.

Pictures below are the activity at my hives this morning....lots of bees out and about.



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9 comments:

  1. hope the weather will be kind to your bees.

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  2. Bless their little bees hearts =( I never thought of the weather fluctuating affecting them that way.

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  3. Thanks of the advice. Where I live, it's a different story. Our crazy time is around March/April. But in the last two weeks we have had weather from 6F to 60F and back again. One day there was a huge pile of bees outside the entrance of one of the hives. I hope that doesn't mean they are going under.

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  4. One important job the bees do when the weather temps are high enough to fly is to carry out the dead. So suddenly there will be a pile of dead bodies outside the entrance because finally the opportunity has come to get the bodies out of the hive. Usually if a hive starves (as I found from sad experience) all of the dead bees are in the hive, heads deep down in the honey cells, often with their tongues sticking out trying to take in the tiniest bit of honey left. They are quite democratic that way. They all die together. So nobody is around to carry out the bodies.

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  5. Linda, if you have a moment I have something for you on Happy At Home =)

    and again, I had NO idea they all died together too. That's really interesting! Poor lil bees, I never knew that had such a hard life before your blog.

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  6. Linda, my WNC weather is very fickle, so my rule of thumb has been to feed whenever the weather is warm enough that my bees are flying. I'm using a boardman feeder, and so far this is working quite well. I guess I have true mountain bees because they don't seem to mind high 30's if the sun is shining. It's very new, but check out my new blog at www.walter-bee.blogspot.com.

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  7. Linda i'am a beekeeper from Holland (dutch) it is for me a nice blogsite . Because so i can learn something about beekeping in your place.
    Several years i have hives in the nederlands . This winter is very hard because since 23 september it is very cold Yesterday -20 degrees celsius. It is for me no problem when it gets warmer for one or 2 days .Because the bees get lost some of digestion out of the bowels.
    That is importent for the bees .Because if the stay to long in the hive it wil can give disees.

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  8. Anonymous10:00 PM

    Hi Linda,
    Noticed in your pics you've left your hive entrances full open. Was that just for the pics or do you leave them that way all winter. I was told to reduce them to one inch.
    HAB

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  9. I haven't closed them up. We don't have mice (knock on wood) and it hasn't been that cold. The bees are not warming the hive, rather they keep the cluster warm so the hive door being reduced is really about keeping out pests, as I understand it.

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