by: Katie Childs, UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
The sap is running and the bees are buzzing...A big cheer for Spring as many of us have suffered from snow and cold fatigue. However, I have some good news to share about the beehives on Golden Pond. Let me bring you up to speed with a bit of a review…
Last November I ‘blogged’ about “Project Honey,” an experimental operation whereby in May, a beekeeper installed a couple of hives near my Gardens on Golden Pond. The colonies not only survived, but thrived near an oasis of perennial beds, along with vegetable and fruit gardens, in an extreme woodsy environment. Over Labor Day, it was
time to harvest the honey from the hives; the process taking several hours, resulted in an abundance of liquid gold!
With the temperature dipping in the fall, the hives were prepped for winter readiness. Along with a honey reserve and protein packs to supplement their winter nourishment, each hive was bound securely with an insulated Mylar type wrap, foam insulation and duct tape. With the temperature falling to beyond minus 30 degrees at times, this
method proved to be sufficient to help maintain the hive temperature during the exceedingly harsh winter months.
Along with the outer protection, the bees had to do their part as well.
Let me explain - the worker bees form a “cluster” surrounding the queen to keep her warm and safe. With thousands of bees shivering and vibrating their wing muscles they can maintain the cluster temperature as follows: the optimal core temp in winter time is 95 degrees; 81 degrees is the average observed in the inside, while 48 degrees is the average temperature for a cluster exterior shell. Who knew, in the winter the workers insulate - in the summer they are a cooling agent.
While the calendar says its spring, our garden scapes and woods may be still covered with snow. However, with the melting well underway, we will soon be checking for daffodils, crocus and tulips popping up. On March 22 the temperature rose to 50 degrees and much to my surprise, I heard a buzzing in a very sunny protected spot a short
distance from the hives. I soon had a confirmation that a honey bee was out and about. On the 23rd - again a warm and calm day - dozens of ‘scout’ bees were seeking pollen and nectar, albeit a bit early. Had they been successful, they would return to the hive and ‘dance’ on the honeycomb. The beekeeper came by to examine the hives and I am happy to report he was pleased at the colonies survival rate and overall hive condition. We are optimistically looking forward to another season of ‘cohabiting’ with honey bees at Gardens on Golden Pond!
HONEY BEE FUN FACTS
FEED THE BEES PLEASE!
|North Country MGV