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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Dead....... and the Living

At this time of year, all of us beekeepers are crossing our fingers that our bees make it through the winter.  Today the icy wind is blowing and Atlanta will have temperatures in the 20s tonight.  This occurs after several balmy days.

Thus is winter in the south.  We just had the anniversary of Snowmagedden, the ice-covered snowy road storm that stopped Atlanta in its tracks last year and left the city with egg on its face.

I never open my hives even on the warm days in winter because to do so breaks the propolis seal and who knows when the next frosty wind will blow.  But I am just as interested as those who do in the survival of my hives.

One way to tell if a hive is alive is by the number of the dead in front of the entrance.  I was over at the Stonehurst Place Inn on Monday to see if my bees there were alive.  The temperature was in the 40s and no live bees were going to show themselves to me.  But I knew the hive was alive by the pile of dead bodies in front of the hive.

In order to create the pile of the dead, there have to be living mortician bees, inside the hive, carrying out the bodies.

My hives prove it to me because of the yard guys.  On a warmish day, the hives do housecleaning and the ground in front of the hives is scattered broadly with dead bees.

This is a hive in my backyard.

Look closely at the concrete in front of and at the sides of this hive entrance.  There are dead bees everywhere.  Even if we couldn't see a live bee, we can tell by the dead ones

that the hive is alive.

The yard guys come every two weeks and when they do, the area around the hive is clean as a whistle because the bee bodies are blown away with any fallen leaves.

So if I look out on the next sunny day after the yard men have been here and there are new bodies strewn around, again I'll again be reassured that my hive is alive.  The "new" dead bees will have been carried out by live ones.


  1. Anonymous10:44 PM

    It just kills me that people would think that keeping the propolis seal intact would be more important than adding food to a starving hive. If in fact the hive just plain starves to death it is the fault of the beekeeper who failed to shift frames of honey or add supplemental food. Propolis is just a substance that goes back together with a little pressure. What gives????

  2. These bees all have honey in Rapid Feeders on the tops of the hives under the top cover. I am trying to give them every chance and Jennifer Berry uses duct tape at the University of Georgia, so I am just following her lead.


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