Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter Feeding

-Posted by Isaac

I don't think Jayne is catching my subtle hints about it being her turn.
Which, in truth, is fitting. When she does a post, she gets about a thousand more hits than I do. So I guess I really should be doing five posts to every one of hers. (That'll show you!)

So here I go again. This is going to be a quicky about what we've been up to since New Years.

But first things first. In the world of beekeeping this week, we had a local bring home BEST OF SHOW at the American Beekeeping Federation National Honey Show!

This is a really big deal.

Carmen Conrad. Once Again. As in, this is not the first time she's done this. (And I suspect husband Barry had a little involvement also.)
If you know the Conrads in Canal Winchester, be sure to say congratulations!

So here's what's going on at the bee farm of late. We've been making our way around checking. Yard to yard, hive to hive, checking bees, checking winter food stores, checking on hive ventilation.

Most are in good shape.

They look like the above hive. No bees in sight. The top frames are thick with honey and the cluster quietly waits out the winter below. They'll slowly eat their way up through all those calories.

But every now and then, we come across a hive like this:

The top gets popped off, and there they are!
In mid-April, a big booming cluster like this would be a welcome sight. Not so in January. This time of year it just means more mouths to feed.
This is also known as bad beekeeping.
This hive probably didn't have a queen excluder on during fall honey production, and we obviously took off a little too much honey. So they'll need some help.

We find the occasional hive needing help, we smoke the bees down, and we layer on the feed.

We also mark those hives. (That's important!)

I like to check on my babies. My hungry girls in need.
Yes, they do seem to like these winter patties.

You can see that putting the feed on thick requires a spacer. Which is fine. The bees don't build comb in the winter anyway, and a spacer can certainly be modified to help with ventilation. (Which is also important.)

We do this all winter.
In all weather.

Today, in a steady drizzle, I finished up the last yard for this round of feeding. This was the "Whitebarn" yard up in New Albany. Whitebarn Organics is a produce farm located on the fertile pastures belonging to one Les Wexner. (I know... I sometimes have to call security.)
Anyway, they needed a beekeeper, and as part of this deal I was allowed to buy the five hives that were already there. I now have 20 in this yard.
So I was making my way through, feeding and turning over the inner covers, and came across a familiar name.

Ha! My brush with beekeeping fame.

I later asked one of the Whitebarn workers, "So did you ever meet the beekeeper who was here before me?"
He paused thinking, "Umm, didn't really know him... some old grey-haired man from Wooster."

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