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What I Didn't Know About Winter Bees

Donald Studinski is one of the more outspoken beekeepers in the Colorado beekeeping associations. He's knowledgable, experienced, and very very opinionated about how he sees the world of beekeeping. I often enjoy his missives, and recently he came up with a really nice article about what really happens with bees during the winter: Deep Freeze, Honeybees, and You. The title is kind of funny, but it has some really intriguing details about what bees really do all winter and how they actually are raising young through the cold months.



We had a good eight inches of snow during the cold blast that froze most of the rest of the country, and in the following days it started to all melt and slide off the roof.

When I had the beehive on the window-wells of the basement, it was out of the arc of the fall of snow from the 2nd story roof on that side of the house (also the solar panels are up there, which is another story all together); but now that I moved it off the window wells, the hive is right in the path of the falling snow. So I had John put the cover up. It's just a huge sheet of particle board that's screwed to a couple of supporting posts.

The problem was that the bottom edge of the particle board, once the board was covered in snow, was right where the run off from the warping board fell onto the entrance of the hive!! Half a dozen of the girls drowned trying to get out of the hive while the melt was happening. Agh. When I discovered this, John and I went out, pulled the hive back the few inches it needed to keep the entrance out from under that edge, and I propped the back of the hive up a couple of inches (the width of a 2x4). Water ran out the front. Gah.

But it all dried within hours of that particular change, and the next day I saw dozens of the girls flying again. They'd dragged the bodies out of the hive. I saw one of the girls bodily picking up a carcass and flying away with it. About half a dozen are dumped just below the entrance, but most have been tidily cleaned up and taken away. So they're doing quite well, it seems, and I am supposed to have a 60 degree day in the next few days. I should be able to go in and see if they're eating the patties and using the proteins for their winter brood. I'll definitely take pictures then.

One of the problems with winter, however, has been that the squirrels have taken to nibbling all the insulation off the wires of the solar panels. They've shorted the things out, and we had to have the installers in for a couple of days to fix the damage, and then we hired another company to put in deterrents for the little furry destroyers. *laughs* We're just putting fences and stuff to keep them away from the wires, but the guys putting the stuff up decided to approach the panels from a different roof than the one right by the beehive... though the girls have been inside today because it's been so cold.
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A low murmuring sound drifted across the snow. It was that perilous noise, that fearful warning... the chomping of the squirrels upon the solar panels...

I'm glad the bees are okay! I look forward to pictures.
*giggles and giggles*

I shall do my best to post some!! I'm happy they're all right, too. It's nervewracking not really being able to DO anything to "insure" their survival.
Zap
I just found signs of squirrels in the engine compartment of the plugin hybrid. They were building a little nest on top of the "repellent" packet that I'd put in there, tucked in among the high voltage lines (I don't know what it is with squirrels and electricity). It's time for a new plan. Good luck with yours.
Re: Zap
Wow. That's impressive.

Yeah, they're building all kinds of stuff around the wires to keep them out. A two-man crew and lots of tools and things. I hope it'll work!!

Good luck with your problem, too. My. Squirrels and electricity... I'm still wondering how the little critters avoided being shorted along with the wires when they chewed them down to the metal.