By Irvine Executive Director Brooks Paternotte
About a month ago I went to check my hives on an unseasonably warm day to see how the colonies were fairing this winter. What I found was both good news and bad news. The good news was that one of my hives was still full of bees; the bad news was that one of my hives had apparently died.
In an effort to avoid supplying the local mice with a home and food for the winter, I removed all of the frames with honey and pollen and placed them in a super for my still living colony. After storing the supers with empty comb in my basement in preparation for starting new colonies in the spring, I then placed the honey and pollen collected from the dead hive on the living colony. I assumed incorrectly that those bees would be appreciative, and a few of them made a beeline at me with stingers blazing. They stung me a couple times before I could replace the top cover and run. My daughter got a kick out of watching her daddy do the “bee dance” across the backyard….
Last week I checked on my remaining hive and found that they were in good shape. I observed bees returning to the hive with full pollen sacks. It seems they had found sources of food – probably the witch hazel, early forsythia, and crocuses blooming already in my yard. I also checked on our observation hive today at Irvine. One of our volunteer naturalist and I were thrilled to see so many bees doing their own dance which communicates the location of food sources. Hopefully these important pollinators will survive the rest of our unusual winter and be ready to do their critically important work this spring and summer.
If you are interested in bees and want to learn more from some experts, please join us for Beekeeping Basics at Irvine March 18th and 25th!