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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. 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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. (678) 597-8443

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, the Winter Solstice, and The Bees

In Mississippi where I grew up we never had a white Christmas. In Atlanta, if it snows, generally it snows in February or maybe late January and once it snowed and closed the city down for a week in March (1993?). So in my life, I've never had a "white Christmas."

But yesterday on Christmas Day in Rabun Gap, Georgia, it snowed from morning to night and we had my very first white Christmas. For those of you used to this kind of thing, that probably is insignificant but I loved it. We had on the top of my mountain about six inches or so of snow by the time it stopped around 9 PM.

While the snow doesn't have much meaning for the bees, the winter solstice (December 21st) does. That day is the shortest day of the year and after December 21st, which marks the beginning of winter, the days gradually get longer and longer until we reach June 21st, the first day of summer.

In the dark interior of the hive, unable to see that the light lasts a bit longer each day, the queen bee senses that the solstice has come. That is one of the first signs to her that it is time to take up one of the survival tasks of the hive: to begin to grow itself into a larger group of bees. Some time after the solstice, maybe the next day, maybe several weeks later, the queen will lay a small patch of brood.

The hive needs enough food to make it through the winter and if they begin raising brood, they have to keep the cluster around the brood warmer than they may have kept it in the winter cold. The brood needs a temperature around 91 degrees to survive, while the cluster only needs to be kept around 70 degrees to survive. This taxes the hive resources.

So the queen's instinct to start laying brood has to do with the lengthening of the days as well as the amount of honey and pollen stored in the hive.

So while I am looking at snow on the picnic table in the first white Christmas day of my life, the queen is evaluating her need to build up the hive and is beginning to sense a need to lay brood.

As the snow slowed, here is how the hillside looked from my deck, gazing down the mountain.

Hope all of my bee friends and all of you who visit this blog had a happy holiday!
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  1. Anonymous11:39 AM

    how lovely it looks!

    wish you all the best for the new year:)

  2. That last picture is beautiful. The falling snow looks like sparkles.

  3. I never tire of looking at photos of snow! We had a very white Christmas too here in N. Alabama! I love it. Happy New Year to you and your Bees.

  4. Anonymous8:35 PM

    Thank you Linda for your wonderful blog and being a great resource to me in my quest to become a better beekeeper.

    I wish you much peace and happiness this holiday season and for the new beekeeping season.

    Annette from Placerville California


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