I’m stayin’ alive! My blog update schedule was devoured by all the usual holiday madness that we inflict upon ourselves because we enjoy doing so. (That’s the only explanation I can come up with.)
I’m also realizing that if I want to post regularly, I’m not going to be able to make every entry a short research paper. (I’m pretty crushed by this.) But I’m going to focus on getting out more regular updates, even if they are short. Even if there are sometimes *gasp* no pictures, and if I don’t proofread them more than six or seven times. (Who? A perfectionist? Me? Never!)
More important than “I’m still alive” is this news: The bees are still alive. They definitely didn’t go into the winter as the strongest colony around, but I’m feeding them every two or three weeks when it’s warm enough to open the box. Since our temperatures have been vacillating between 25 degrees and 65 degrees, I never go too long without an opportunity.
Despite being the coldest, dankest, rainiest winter we’ve had in a while, the bees seem to be holding up great. My mentor had some pretty strong words about my winter setup, and some of them had four letters, so I’ve scrapped that approach and I’m just keeping an eye on things for now. So far, so good. The bees still have plenty of honey stores left, and they’re dutifully cleaning the hive out every time we have a warm day. This makes for some sad times in Beelandia, because it means hauling out the bodies of their dead. (Although bees live longer in winter when they aren’t working themselves to death, they still have a relatively short lifespan.) So every sunny day results in an alarming little pile of bodies scattered around the base of the hive. I’m told that’s normal for this time of year, though, and means I have good, hygienic bees that are healthy enough to tend their home.
I’ve gotten pretty good at getting in and out of the hive as quickly as possible. I’ve also finally switched to the veil and jacket, and abandoned the bulky, awkward full suit. It’s so much easier to deal with, and even though it’s very cheap gear, it feels like plenty of protection to work with my girls. I still think I’d be wary going in to deal with a colony whose temperament I don’t know.
I’ve also designed my honey labels in the hopes that we’ll get through the next couple of months and have a good spring honey flow in the spring. But superstitiously, I haven’t ordered any labels actually printed and shipped to me yet. Why jinx myself?