It has been a long time since I posted here, and I have to admit, I stayed away largely out of fear that I would have to report that something terrible had happened over the winter. Up to 60% of all hive fail for a variety of reasons. I was afraid mine would too.
I spent the month of September in Ireland where I rediscovered family roots and wasn’t far away from beekeeping either! I unexpectedly came across a hive tucked in a corner of a field near the cottage we were staying in and I “accidentally” met topbar beekeepers at a farmers market in Dingle and sampled their wares!
The weather had been unusually warm while we’d been away, but once I returned home, the hive was tucked away for the winter.
My first winter as a beek. And it started with early lowland snow.
I had no idea what to expect, and after my close call with nearly losing my hive to starvation in the spring, I was terrified at how easily it could happen. I withdrew from my blog so I wouldn’t have to report a horror story. But then something amazing (and disturbing from a global warming perspective) happened. I kept seeing my bees.
The sisters were definitely in there. Moving slowly, but there. Even Neil was excited to see them, sending me excited text messages about sightings on his lunch breaks. And the “winter” was so mild, they were still bringing in pollen on the days the temps got anywhere close to 60 degrees.
I hadn’t left them extra food in the fall, though I have to admit it was because I was distracted by my trip rather than because of any particular stance on feeding. However, my top bar hive is nearly four feet long and all but the last 18 inches was full of honey or pollen at the final fall inspection over labor day weekend. I was nervous about how they were doing, and I went out and sang to them nearly every day so they would know I was still there for them (I know,it’s silly, but it made me feel better and that is all that matters). As the weeks passed with continuing mild weather, it didn’t seem like the smallish cluster I knew was in there could go through all that food. And they didn’t.
The internet is filled with stories of starved hives or hives that have succumbed to disease or pests. But my story, at least this year, seems to be one of success. I am knocking on wood, crossing my fingers and saying prayers as I write this, hoping I don’t jinx the good health of my girls. But I do know this….when I cracked open the hive on a freak 65 degree day IN FEBRUARY to see where they were, they hadn’t gotten through half of the honey, and hadn’t yet reached the largest of the bars. In fact, by my notes written on the bars, it would appear that they are pretty close to where the brood nest has been all along. The weather has remained mild and is projected to stay that way.
I am looking forward to sharing my adventures this year as I am become a (hopefully) smarter beek, add a second hive and work toward my Washington State Apprentice Beekeeper Certification. I am looking forward to meeting other beekeepers and sharing their stories here as well! Send me notes and I will do a better job of passing on the wonderful blogs and stories I read!
See you in the garden!