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Past the Winter Solstice

Posted by on January 3, 2013

Call me cautious, but as a new beekeeper, I ordered a candy board late in the summer.

Somehow I didn’t think I would have enough food for the bees over the winter. That’s a new candy board on top of the 20 lbs of sugar I keep in the garage, and the seemingly limitless supply of sugar that the local grocery stocks on their shelves. I can’t explain why I bought the candy board, other than I was just paranoid they would starve. As a foodie, I can’t think of a worse death.

Now about half way through the winter I know better. I’ve learned a few things that I heard, but didn’t make sense at the time.

  • Bees are in tune to the sun, even in the winter when they are in a pitch black environment 24×7.
  • Don’t think of their food supply in terms of the seasons, think of the sun’s patterns – how much sunlight the outside of hive gets each day.
  • They are still active and burning lots of energy in the Fall with little to no nectar and pollen for them to gather, so they can starve if they don’t have enough food build up.
  • Once the Fall is in full tilt, and the weather starts to drip below 50F some days, they move around less, the queen breeds less, and they eat less.
  • By the time December hits, and the temperature is below 50F daily, they are in their slowest stages. and will consume the least amount of food.
  • On December 21st, the Winter Solace, this slow down reverses, and the bees start to get busy again, even on the coldest days to come in New England.
  • In January and February, even though humans are huddled around the fireplace, the bees are busy. The queen now starts laying more rapidly to build up the colony.

So over New Year’s I swapped out the Mountain Camp feeder on the hive, and put in a traditional candy board. It came with the woodenware pre-built, and the candy snugly inside of it. From the looks of it, this should last them for the rest of the winter.

Update February 3, 2013: They have eaten the entire thing. Nothing left on the plate. I wish I could get my kids to do the same. So I fed them 5 lbs of dry sugar using the mountain camp method. I’ll check on them in another two weeks if the weather cooperates.

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