Even happy bees need a little support

We just finished the process of inspecting our beehives after the winter. It can be tricky to figure out the right time to crack the winter seal of propolis and disturb the colony. It’s important to see how the hives are doing after the long New England freeze. Since mid-November, we haven’t done much more than offer sugar-patty gifts to the ladies for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We’ve heard stories of beekeepers who enter the hive too soon and accidentally chill the brood, killing the colony. We’ve also made the mistake of not inspecting soon enough to know that the colony was about to swarm. Last year, we had three swarms in two weeks so are trying to prevent that from happening by checking on the ladies earlier this year … but hopefully not too early.

 

 

 

Since we started our apiaries in 2020, we’ve been blessed to over-winter the majority of our hives. Bill did lots of research and found a combination of insulation and ventilation that seems to work for our ladies in our climate. So we were a little sad to lose our first hive this year. We’re not sure why, but when we lifted the inner cover, not a buzz was heard.  Fortunately the other four hives made it and seem healthy.

Even though the colonies look strong and the bees are busy – the queens are laying, brood is developing, nursery bees are feeding the new babies, foragers are bringing in pollen – we decided to offer them a little support. We fed the bees a sugar – water syrup for extra sustenance. Since it’s still in the low 40’s at night, there’s not quite as much nectar as they may need to ease-fully conduct all of their spring chores.

 

 

This preemptive sugar – water support has me thinking that I don’t ask for help until I’m pretty desperate. It doesn’t occur to me to say to a friend, “I’m doing pretty ok, but my life would be a lot easier if you could bring us supper this week.” Or to ask for help weeding the garden and doing spring clean up. Could the bees survive without their extra support? I think so. But will they be able to flourish with the extra food to draw out honeycomb for later honey storage? Yes! and so will we when we enjoy their honey!

My friends, even if you’re doing pretty well right now, take a moment to see if there’s one area in your life where a little support could help. And if you’re not doing so hot, please reach out to someone and share your struggles. I would have given anything to have known that hive was in trouble so I might have been able to help. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but at least I could have been there in the struggle.

Love and blessings to you all,

Libby

PS: I’m happy to chat by phone or email and help you find the support you need. Click to drop me a note or make an appointment to say hi.