I keep notes in a spiral notebook about my bees, but it would be nice to include pictures, so I'll try keeping my notes here. So, it really won't even be for anyone but my own recordkeeping and if you're reading it, I hope you can learn a little from my adventure. We have this site, so I might as well use it! There are bee bloggers and youtubers galore and I don't have any plans to become a wise beekeeping sage. Sometimes I will probably say things that are wrong. I'm just flailing along in this beekeeping thing. There are various ways to do everything and so much depends on location and how many hives and personal preference and.... I have new beekeepers asking me for help getting started and I feel very inept at answering questions, but my kids and Michael remind me that I actually know more than a new beek does. (ya like that? Beekeepers eventually start saying things like "beek" and write "bee" for "be" whenever possible. ;) I'm too much of a spelling nazi for that. (but, hmmm... why IS it called a spelling bee? I digress.... ) I'll probably say "I guess" and "probably" a lot. If any fellow beekeeper ever reads this, feel free to correct anything you read by commenting!
I started with bees 5 years ago, but 2 years ago lost them after a droughty summer. They went into the winter pretty weak and my hives died. I didn't get around to ordering bees that spring, but got back to it last year, 2020. I bought two packages of bees for 2 hives. They did pretty well and I got 9 gallons of honey. Often people say not to expect to get any honey with new hives, but mine did well.
I went into the winter with 2 hive bodies and a honey super on each. I have tried to decide a good practice for winter. One of the big debates is whether or not to insulate. I have never wrapped my hives. My first years, I insulated the inner cover. I had heard that if you get a lot of snow, it will insulate the hive. Also, bees will survive in a hollow log, without styrofoam wrap, so if you have them in a sort of protected place, you should need to. Last winter, I came across this guy, who is in New England. He does wrap his hives, but I just used the info from about 7:50-10:00 and fed dry sugar. (He has a lot of videos that I keep planning to watch. He has a pleasant way about him....)
Last week (or two weeks ago?), Cole came in from the barn one day and told me there were dead bees and poop and all over. The hives are alive! We have had a few warm days the last week and they have come out a few times for their "cleansing flights". Basically they say "hey, it's pretty warm today, let's have a poop party!" Some fly out and just poop and go back. Some go out, land on the snow and I guess it's just a bit too cold for them to lift back off and get home and they die on the snow. Always sad. There are a lot of bees out front of one of my hives. I think I read that they also take the warm weather opportunity to drag out any bees that died over the winter.
So, yesterday, it was warm and sunny, and I thought I'd go peek inside. I had a coat and tall boots on and put on my veil - head only cover. When I got out there, they were buzzing around so much that I decided to get my full suit on. I don't know if I'll ever be one of those that goes out suitless and doesn't mind getting stung. Bees were flying around both hives. I lifted the inner cover off and poured in more dry sugar. One hive seems to have more bees, but I didn't get down into the hive bodies. I'll wait for some more extended warm weather and warmer nights.