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Winter Bee Obsession

Author - Laura Urban, Urban Honey Bee

If my bees die this winter I will be able to tell you within twenty four hours of when it happened, at least for the hives here at the house. I have a morning routine, feed the dogs, feed and water the chickens then make my bee rounds. My bee rounds consist of putting my ear up to the hive and listening for the faint “hmmm”.

If I think for a minute I can’t hear it I tap the side of the hive and listen for the response. I’ve become obsessed with this ritual. I tell myself “it’s all scientific! I’ll know immediately so I can do an autopsy of the hive and really understand “why” they died!!!” Truthfully it’s because I miss my bees.

I miss my bees. I miss summer and as of late I hate winter. I am positive the lack of light is going to kill me. I get up for work its dark. I leave work, its dark. I walk the dogs in the cold and the dark. I watch more TV than I should. There is no reason I should know who Honey Boo Boo is!

When I asked a friend of mine if he checks on his bees through the winter, especially his nucs his response was “no, I just get them prepared and hold tight until spring!” I envy him. I envy his resolve, yet I continue to question myself.

Should I have wrapped my hives? Did they have enough honey and if not did I provide enough sugar? How about those mites were they really under control before the cold weather hit? I think I’ll go rap on a hive just to make sure they’re ok.

Then there’s a 60 degree day in January ON A SATURDAY! None of that middle of the week stuff where I’d have to work. Oh happy day!!!! The bees were alive and healthy, stores looked ok on some, others I had to help with sugar, or maybe it was just for my own piece of mind. Its times like this I think beekeeping is more art than science. It’s still early however, lots of winter left. A few days later, one of the chickens laid an egg. In case you aren’t familiar with chickens, their desire to lay eggs is driven by the amount of hours of daylight. Could spring be almost here?

Then reality sets in. At the time of this writing we’re facing a week of temperatures in the teens, even lower. They’re still buzzing, but the weather is testing the bees. It’s also testing the nerves of this beekeeper. No more eggs from the chickens.

C’mon SPRING!!!

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