This Winter has been a bear in Eastern Indiana. I don’t think we have had a good bee day since mid December. I’ve watched hives all Winter as the lows get to -15F, wondering how many will make it. Recently in discussions with other beekeepers I have been pretty pessimistic. This is my first Winter like this keeping bees. On Saturday I was at a hive site and wanted to check for pest tracks in the snow. What I saw looked like a scene from some kind of scatological horror film. I must confess a smile came across my face.
The front of the hives were splattered with bee droppings. I know this happened in the last two weeks, but I can’t be exactly sure when. They had not done it on this day because fresh snow fell the previous evening. The snow in front of the hives was pure white. The hive host had sent me a text one day the previous week saying that there were bees dead out in front, but he didn’t say anything about the new paint jobs.
There is information here if we take the time to think about it. Hive strength is better in 1208 than 1005. Just by looking at the number of droppings on the outside of each hive a “ballpark” idea of how many bees are in there can be estimated. The woodwork of 1208 took more direct hits than 1005 because more bees were in there needing to go. 1303 appears to still be alive, but they had way fewer streaks. This was a small swarm last summer that went into winter with fewer bees than the other two hives at this site. The fact that 1303 is still alive gives me hope for others out there.
The above photos were taken about 11:50 a.m. I should have taken pictures of the snow in front of the hives at that time. It did NOT get above 35F Saturday, but the sun came out so the hives were checked again just before evening. To my amazement bees had been out relieving themselves. Not in the numbers required to cover the outside of the boxes, but new droppings were present. The photo to the left shows fresh spots in the snow. Several dead bees were present on the snow as well.
This is another time where information about your bees can be gained passively. Granted, you don’t know how many stores are left or exactly how big the cluster is, but you know they are alive and you didn’t have to do anything TO THEM. At this stage of the game that is good enough for me. There is little that can be done right now anyway. It gives me hope, and I hope your hives have a little poop on em’ too.
It may not seem like it, but Spring is coming.
Questions / Comments ?