Tag Archives: beehives

Beekeeping In The Age Of Climate Change

I’m Keeping My Fingers Crossed

Losing all six hives last winter took the wind out of my sails.  I set up three new hives in spring but the weather has been uneven through the whole season.  The cold weather had lasted much longer than usual and the temperature has been seesawing from spring into autumn.  Some days we had 40°F in summer and 70°F in late November.  Heavy rain washed out flowers when there should have been plenty of them around at the time.  All in all our honeybees couldn’t build much honey storage this year.

When I inspected them in September, they barely had a full 8 frames in the super.  My gut told me I had better start feeding them.  I fed them from early September until the end of October when the temperature started to drop.  The total amount of sugar syrup I fed the hives amounted to around 4.4 gallons each.  I hope this helps them through the winter as the last inspection before closing them up showed they have plenty of food stored now.

Fed with sugar syrup, ratio 2:1 (sugar/water), in a 800 ml bottle each time
Covered with 2 inch foam board, leaving only 3/4 inch top and bottom entrance open
Then wrapped with an industrial-grade plastic bag. Fastened the hive with bungie cords.

I closed them up just in time as the temperature dropped down to below 20°F for a couple of nights.  I thought they should be fine for the winter, but the weather wasn’t on my side.  The temperature shot up to above 50°F for many days and one day, even above 70°F .  We’re talking about late November here.  The bees came out every warm day.  They even did their flight orientation.

November 25: warm & the honeybees came out. Some even did flight orientation

Nothing out there for them to bring back home since frost had killed most of the flowers, so they have to depend on their food supply in the hive.  I cannot feed them again without opening the winter cover and the bottom entrance.  I hope the temperatures stabilize to something more seasonal so they can just ball up in there.  I also hope the winter doesn’t drag on like the last one did.  We have done so much damage to this planet that we are starting to see the effect of our self-inflicted wounds every season.  I’ll do the best I can for the bees in my care and keep my fingers crossed.

End Of The Growing Season

Back to Blogging

I’ve been away from blogging for six months but it’s a busy six months.  Started with erecting a deer fence around the garden, which ate up most of my spring.  It turns out that black, plastic net deer fencing has become an ‘IN’ thing for gardeners who have deer problems this year. It has even made the news.

The first round of fence-plastic from the ground up-can only fend off the deer.  Rabbits and woodchucks immediately chewed big holes through so I added a foot and a half of chicken wire at the bottom.  Then they chewed through right above the wire.  I added more chicken wire up to about waist high.  Bravo!  Finally, we have a deer, rabbit and woodchuck free garden.  No more spraying the plants and we still have plenty of flowers for bees and other pollinators.

Then our honeybees kept swarming.  I split a hive for the first time to prevent one of the hives from swarming.  They swarmed anyway. We managed to capture two out of three swarms.

Some of the hives in our garden
Some of the hives in our garden

On top of all this was catching up on cleaning, pruning, transplanting, feeding and other garden chores, plus a full time job.

I would like to express my sincere apology for being A.W.O.L. from blogging.

At the end of the growing season, I can only say that I am satisfied with the garden this year.  We have plenty of flowers and vegetables and not stumps left over after being chewed off.  Our bees are happy and healthy. We were also able to put up a ‘Pollinator Habitat’ sign.

Pollinator Habitat sign from Xerces Society
Pollinator Habitat sign from Xerces Society

As much as we would like to put up a ‘Wildlife Habitat’ sign, we couldn’t since we’ve fenced off the herbivores.  Not much choice there as they can denude a yard in less than a month.

I intend now, to be a tad more prolific than I have been in the past few months.   …At least until the fence is breached.  Then, it’s battle stations once again.   I love deer, rabbits and chucks, just not in my garden.