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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, February 16, 2010

Bee Worried



Over the weekend, it really snowed in Atlanta and was quite cold until midday on Saturday. Last night the temperatures were in the low 20's and it barely rose to freezing today. We are having one of the coldest winters that I can remember since I moved here in 1979. Although apparently my memory is skewed, because as an Atlanta Journal Constitution blogger points out, actually our winters are getting much warmer every year.

However, this one appears to me to be expanding in its breadth. Last year in February, it felt like spring. But not this year.

I came home from the Georgia Beekeepers "spring" meeting in the snow in Moultrie, GA, almost as far south as Florida, to find my beehives had snow on the landings.

I am worried about the bees. This late cold weather can result in dead hives - not from the cold but from starvation. If the cluster is not where the food is when the cold strikes, the bees will starve.

I am also worried because when we do have a bee-flying day (above 50 degrees), I work too late to see if mine are alive and flying. Cindy Bee suggested that I dust the landings with flour on a day forecast to be warm enough for flying. Then even if I don't see the bees, I'll see their little footprints to know if a hive were up and flying.

Of course, Bermuda, the hive pictured above that I am most worried about, uses a top entrance that they created from a bad shim and I won't see their little bee-prints.

The weather forecast looks as though it will be sunny, bee-flying weather on Friday and Saturday. I'll be on the lookout for flying bees.

Note: The record high for this date in Atlanta was 78 in 1995, the record low was 11 in 1958. Today the low was 21 and the high was 30 - so you can see why I am reacting!
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7 comments:

  1. this is the wierdest winter i have encountered since living in n. alabama. more snow days than any since being this far north since 1980. it seems to have stretched out forever this year. i sure hope your bees are ok.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Linda,

    John and I are both big fans of the bee cozy. John talked me into it and now I'm sold that it's worth the price.
    http://www.miteaway.com/html/bee_cozy.php
    Cassandra

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous11:12 AM

    Linda-

    Being a Michigan beekeeper, I think that you worry WAY too much about cold weather. Yes, bees can starve in extreme cold because the cluster can't move to new food stores. But, is it likely that they will consume all of the available food in a couple of days of below-freezing temps? The cluster doesn't need 50F days to move.

    My hive is alive and well, with daily HIGHS less than 32F since mid-January. I know because I opened the top and added food last weekend. Save your worry for something like varroa ;-).

    Julie in Michigan

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  4. Oh I hope you see them Linda!

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  5. I can really only get to my hives on the weekends, so I have to gather as much evidence as I can regarding the health of my hives when it's cold like it is here. While my colonies were alive I would still find the little yellow streaks of bee poop on or around the landing board and knew then that all was well. Or at least they were alive.

    Not so much these days. . . I still hold out hope, though. They are amazingly resilient creatures and for all my speculation I don't really know anything for certain until it's warm enough to crack the supers and check in on them.

    Skill and persistence!

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you have a video camera you could try poiting it out the window at the hive, set it to record in EP mode (lower quality, longer time on the tapes) or to record directly to your hard drive.

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  7. Certainly if you are in Michigan, the bees are much colder than ours. The problem with ours is that it is deceptive for the bees who think spring is here. Then we suddenly have a 1 1/2 week cold period of temperatures in the 20s and they often starve because the cluster is not located near the honey stores. The cold weather sneaks up as it were.

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