Monthly Archives: February 2011

Spring is in the air

Spring is right around the corner here in Austin, and the weather is nice enough now to do my first full inspection of the season. Plants and trees are also starting to bloom including Texas Redbuds which are one of my favorites and a true indication that spring is finally here.

As the girls had plenty of honey from my last quick look, the main goal of the first inspection is to make sure Large Marge is still laying, and brood frames are still present. I may also reverse some of my boxes to encourage the bees to redistribute honey, brood, and pollen evenly in the hive. Bees generally like to move up in a hive, especially in winter, so reversing boxes will make sure they are using all parts of the hives evenly. It also makes them feel like they have more room to hopefully prevent a swarm.

As I was struck down with a nasty cold this past weekend, I’m hoping the beautiful sunny weather holds out until the end of the week. I also need to start preparing the area for the 2nd hive as I was totally lazy over the winter. April is fast approaching so I need to make sure I’m ready when the new package shows up.

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Florida Bees

I’m visiting my folks in Jupiter, FL, and they have a big garden where the broccoli has flowered. Right now, it is completely covered in bees of both the native and honey bee variety. My normal perception of Florida is that it is always green and lush, but right now, there really aren’t a lot of plants in bloom so the bees are going to take what they can get.

I managed to capture two different bumble bees next to each other.
Native Bees

Here is a shot of a honey bee gathering nectar and pollen.
Honey Bee on Garden

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Beekeeping 101 Follow-up

After our Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup this past weekend, I’ve reserved the meeting room at the Terrazas Library Branch on Saturday, February 12th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm for additional time for Q&A. I’ll recap the basics for about 30-45 minutes, but I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time for questions.I’ll also hopefully have an answer from Dadant about free shipping for orders from our group as well.

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Living High on the Hive

I performed a quick February inspection today to make sure the girls had plenty of honey to last them through the end of the month and into the start of the wildflower season in March. I made a batch of 1:1 sugar solution with a touch of Honey B Healthy just in case their stores were running low. When I removed 8 frames of honey on October 2nd, 2010, I was slightly worried I was taking too much, but as it turns out, my fears were unfounded. The top two supers were still full or even fuller with honey than when I last checked in December.

Here I found evidence of some newly capped honey which is in the frame perch. I’m lifting a frame of older honey as a contrast.

February Hive Check

So as it stands now, Large Marge is living large with ample stores of sweet delicious honey. This will be great when I start the second hive in April as I will be able to loan some full frames of honey to the new hive to give them a kick start of food and drawn comb for egg laying.

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Large Marge eats freezing temperatures and snow for breakfast.

After almost a week of record breaking cold temperatures in Austin, not to mention a few inches of snow, I was a little anxious on how Large Marge and the girls were holding up. Deep down inside, I know that bees are able to handle this quite well, and if cold weather killed bees off, no one in the northern parts of the U.S. could ever be beekeepers. Still, with the sun out today and much warmer weather, I did a quick check of the hive to make sure there was activity at the hive entrance. Sure enough, bees were coming and going.

Hive Activity after Week of Cold Weather

Tomorrow, I’m going to take a quick peek into the hive to make sure they still have adequate honey stores, and they are clustering well. If supplies look low, I’ll put the feeder back on to give them the food they need to make it through February.

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