Dateline: February 13, 2019
A bulletin via FaceBook Thunder Bay Beekeepers informed that fellow Member Rudy has lost 3 hives. Bees have starved. Rudy is the “European expert” with many years of beekeeping. Rudy has many hives and sells honey from his acreage on Oliver Road.
Eegad. I was worried before I heard about Rudy. We, meaning all of us (Husband, Kaya (the magnificent Dog) and the bees, made it through January and those Arctic Vortexes but I noticed over the last 2 weeks Hive No. 1 “looked quiet”. No bee casualties were to be found laying on the stomped down threshold. I am diligent to sweep aside or shovel snow around the BeeYard. Hive No. 2 always had a few bodies and when I poke their upper exit to clear the ice someone inside gives notice: buzzzz!
I have been suspecting an icy “Attic” in No. 1 and have been preparing a new Cedar chip burlap pillow to change up, what I expect will be a ?frozen? one that needs replacing. Luckily, today climbed to minus -5° with that particular February sunshine and I opened No. 1 up, fearing the worst . . .although in the morning I had found 3 bees on the threshold and hoped it was a sign. It was! (and not just stray bees from No. 2) After I lifted off the layers of construction: Roof, top tray of cedar pillow, and top handhold cover of the upper super . . . Ta-Daah! behold the brown mat of bees, quietly buzzing, the candy board still full of white sugar fondant and that’s how you spell joy.
The top cover went back on quickly, my toque was stuffed into the hand hold, a quick dash inside for a mohair blanket to substitute as temporary insulation while I cleaned off the ice and dried out the roof interior. It is obvious that the building science performance of this hive is not working, not enough airflow and the resulting condensation is icing the upper levels of the hive. It could be the opening of only 1 inch is not wide enough to draw air at the base. *note to self next year: use 2″ cleat and re-think the straw bale surround . . .I may have created a cold sink also. 😦 Tomorrow’s forecast will also be as warm but with snow. No. 2 will be checked if weather allows and then I have to think of jimmying another design of candy board to slide between the frames of No. 1’s super and No. 2’s situation, whatever I find there. Beekeeping . . . one must have their wits about them and be ready to improvise. But seriously: whew!