Although the temperature was a brisk 18 degrees this afternoon, I visited the ladies in the backyard. There is absolutely nothing that can be done with or for the bees during the winter and after a summer and fall of thinking, watching, and interacting with them, I am experiencing feelings of withdrawal. I cleared the snow and ice away from the lower entrances of both hives and discovered a number of frozen bees, some on the landing boards and some stuck in the holes of the metal mouse guards. I wrapped both hives with tar paper to help protect them from the wind and raised the lid just a bit to provide a little ventilation. I have read and have been told that it is not the cold of winter that kills bees but an over abundance of moisture in the hive.
I put my ear up to the side of the main hive and could hear the quiet whir of their heating system- their wings; I smiled. I did the same to the small hive (the last group that swarmed in September) and could not hear anything. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean the worst scenario has played out but I do worry about them because they were small in number and have only the candy with which I supplied them to live on during the winter. I am sending them hopeful thoughts.
My husband and I recently visited Backwood Bee Farm in North Windham; I placed an order for 2 packages of bees (a package of bees = an Italian queen bee and approximately 10,000 honey bees). Their arrival date is mid-April!! I am very excited about the new additions and will begin preparing their hives. Actually, my husband will assemble most of each hive and I will give them a coat or two of paint. I wonder what colors these ladies might prefer!