Last winter, Jim Tew from the OSU bee lab jokingly told a reporter that wintertime bees mostly "hang out, drink beer and watch TV..."
This left some Columbus Dispatch readers scratching their heads, and poor Mr. Tew was pressed into explaining what he meant by that for several weeks following.
What he was essentially saying is that bees don't do all that much. No hibernating, no migrating, no foraging. In cold wet Ohio, they mostly just try to stay alive.
Every so often we get a day with the temps rising above 50 degrees, and the bees are able to get out and take "cleansing flights." Our 65 degree January day this week was just the ticket.
("Don't go believin that Climate Change crap!")
("Them scientists don't know nuffin!")
With the advent of this tropical January craziness, Mason and I got out to check a few hives.
|Mason dons the new bee suit|
|Loose winter cluster|
If the hive is light weight, and maybe 20% of ours are, we give them a five pound fondant patty to play around with.
As I said earlier, the winter is mostly a fight for survival, and as always there are a few casualties.
This is a small hive that died, not from lack of food, but simply because the cluster size was too small to produce enough heat. Without heat the bees are immobile, and they can't move enough to travel the few inches to their stores. I pulled a frame up to show a cross section of the dead cluster. This cluster was only three frames in width. Way too small.
Therefore, in a couple weeks, things get busy. We go around making sure our girls are fat and happy.