Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Inspection of the Year

Through the winter, the bees form a three dimensional cluster and kinda do a group hug. They clasp their legs together and vibrate their wing muscles--which they very impressively disjoint from the wing. This generates heat and keeps the cluster of bees warm. They fuel this months long activity by eating the honey they've stored, gradually moving through the hive in search of more. If you plan well and are lucky, they are able to migrate to it as they need it. If you are unlucky, during prolonged cold or a cold snap they can starve to death within inches of honey to spare. Fortunately, we have not witnessed this firsthand. However, their movement through the hive often causes them to drift upward.

Due to the settlement patterns of our hives in the fall, we were unable to shrink them down to three hive bodies, so we had some deceptively tall hives through the winter months. It was finally warm enough this past week to quickly pop them open. All of them had--mostly--exited their bottom hive bodies and were hanging out in the upper bodies. We pulled off the bottom body (a deep)and gave each other a hive five. I was excited just to get back in them (I found out about 2 months into getting the bees last summer that I was allergic and had been banished from the beeyard while I had my allergy shots through the summer & fall), and Grant was excited to get the deep bodies off so we could have one interchangeable size of frame (we'll discuss that in a subsequent post).

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