In the far corner of the apiary stands a single hive, isolated from every other hive by design. This part of the apiary is where the white pines transition to the blue stem grasses and mixed stage horn sumac summer fields.This dark time of the year, the fierceness of the howling winter winds are unabated in this area. The bees in this hive are of a Buckfast gene pool darken honeybee with a one year old queen. This particular hive has always been somewhat independent in their bee personality. Sometimes fairly easy to work with and at other times quick to tell you they do not want company today. This is a one year hive that built up on lots of new foundation and was also a great provider of propolis. It capped over two fall supers after filling three of their own deep boxes. T.S.19 is the name I put down in my notes for this self-sufficient hive. My main interest in this hive’s winter survival is that I am thinking of starting cell regression in the spring of 2012. Here is a link to a web site that explains a little about the cell regress process and going organic with beekeeping. http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
This winter I am monitoring both the outside temperature and the temperature inside the third box. I started out with the temperature probe in the second box but within a week they quickly proceeded to chew the temperature sender unit off the wire and totally encased it in propolis. The new unit is in the third upper box and working fine for now. It helps that all the bees are in the second box but I still can check on temperatures inside the hive. The bees are maintaining a 17-25 degree difference in the top box compared to the outside temperature on any given day. The temperature in the second box with the bees will be a constant 50-55 degrees for early winter survival. Sometime in late January or early February, when eight hours of natural daylight start again, all the bees will move upward into the top box for food and the start of the queen’s 2012 first brood laying cycle. By monitoring the temperature inside the hive, I want to know when the mass movement upward is going to occur. The close up picture shows the temperature differences on the morning of December 3, 2011. The outside air temperature (17.5F) is the top number and the bottom number is inside the hive top box (33.8F).
When they make that move, I will see the temperature rise rapidly in a twenty-four hour period in the top box. For now, as 2011 winds down, my coffee mug in tow, I will check and note the morning temperature at 7:30 every morning . So far the temperature difference has been very consistent with that 17-25 degree range mentioned above. I am curious to see what happens if we ever get that severe cold snap on the back of an Alberta Clipper. For now, enjoy the mildness of this Minnesota winter. I know the bees are. Next week, the year in review.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison