Bee Poop + A Winter Peek Under the Hood

Yesterday morning at 9 am, it was 53* F. The Engineer opened the upper entrance a little wider, and the girls went crazy(click through for a brief video),  seizing the opportunity for mid-winter cleansing flights.

Consider this: The frigid weather has kept these girls cooped up for weeks, unable to relieve themselves outside. Small wonder they were pushing and shoving to get out.

It was poopfest. And when we got in their way, they didn’t hesitate to use us as their alfresco toilet.

Later, when things calmed down a bit, we had a peek under the hood to see where they were in the hive and how much food they had.

Many were upstairs, and their sugar patties were gone. We think this means they are either running low on food, or have been unable to move to the honey they’d stored because of the extreme cold. Probably the former.

Unwilling to risk cooling the hive too much by keeping it open, we covered the top of the upper frames with sugar patties, and closed up shop. (Approximately four pounds of sugar patties according to our hive scale — a remarkably exact measure since I used four pounds of sugar to make them.)

Then, we took off the entrance reducer, fully opening the front door to scrape out the dead bees. We’d been warned it would seem like there were a lot. So, when it did, I tried to view it as part of the circle of life. (For more info, see Honey Bee Suite’s post on entrance reducers and how they can tick off your bees.)

“I hope the queen isn’t one of the dead ones,” my optimistic husband remarked, thereby giving me a whole new avenue of beekeeping worries.

We were also warned to wear our beekeeping gear because the girls don’t appreciate having their house opened in the winter, and we did, but they were pretty mellow. I think maybe we just lucked out with an easygoing hive.

Today, we’re back in winter, with predictions of an ice storm/blizzard. During the next warm spell, we’ll feed again and treat with oxalic acid once more so they can start spring with a low Varroa threshold (assuming they make it that far).

Temperature update: The hive has been fluctuating like mad, from the 20s a few days ago, back up to 90* this morning. It’s becoming clear the location of the bees  in the hive has a huge effect on the temperature readout.

Other bee news (sort of): Over the holidays, I got a couple of bee-related gifts.

The socks are from Darling Daughter, and the shoes from a friend.
Aren’t they the coolest?

That’s the all the news from Buzzers’ Roost. Talk to you again soon! Bee warm!




4 thoughts on “Bee Poop + A Winter Peek Under the Hood

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