February generally brings a warm spell in Eastern Ontario. This year, it’s also bringing rain. Lots of rain: Environment Canada is predicting 25 – 40mm of rain and highs above 10C in the next couple of days. So much for the snow.
Temperature swings in the winter can wreak havoc in a hive. In a good winter, it gets cold in December and stays that way until March or so. As long as it stays below 0C, all is good: the bees stay clustered around the Queen and slowly eat the stored honey while they wait it out.
Ideally, the temperatures are even colder. The warmer the bees are, the more they move around. The more they move around, the more honey they need to eat to stay alive. The more they eat, the sooner they’ll run out. If they run out of stored honey before the maples start to bloom in the spring, then they’ll starve.
Cameron and I paid the home yard a visit today to see how they’re doing.
The good news: there are bees alive here. The bad news: the 10 late-season nucs that we prepared for winter didn’t make it.
This is the first year we’ve made a bunch of them, so we’ll have to take a close look at what we did, when, and how we did it, to see what went wrong. My suspicion is that the when is the major issue. Last year was a horrendous year for raising and mating queens. The nucs we ordered for spring didn’t arrive until July and teh queens that we used for these nucs were very difficult to get as well.
It just reinforces something we’ve known for a long time: unless and until you learn to raise your own queens, you’re at the mercy of others. No matter how well you get along with your queen supplier, you’re simply not their top priority.
What’s happening inside?
We’re going through our equipment inventory and taking stock: what needs to be repaired or replaced? What do we have in inventory and what do we have to order?
We’re sitting down shortly to plan the year as well. Set our goals: numbers of hives, honey production, new products, etc.
We’re also prepping for an event that marks the beginning of Spring in our area: Seedy Saturday in Kingston. We’ve gone as vendors since 2012 and it’s an incredible event. It’s literally grown every year we’ve been there and this is the third year it’s been held in the cafetorium at LCVI.
It happens on March 10 and for a nominal fee you get entry to the best gardening event in the area. Dozens of seed vendors, advice, there’s a seed swap table, activities for the kids and all kinds of other interesting vendors from around the area.