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  • Writer's pictureMGeslock

Virginia State Beekeeping Newsletter

You may not know that I am the VSBA newsletter editor. This is my contribution to the January 2020 newsletter.

If you recall from the last newsletter, I live in Spotsylvania County and I had started bee keeping in April 2019

We get some cold snaps in our area from time to time but nothing major, so as winter approached, I knew I needed to plan and prep and had a lot of questions. I asked 10 beekeepers and got 12 different answers. I even went old school and read books from the 1940's-50's.

I decided for my winter feeding to go with newspaper and sugar. I determined that a quilt board with cedar shavings would be the best for moisture control. I had also made the decision that I would build my quilt boards, I figured it was a way to be involved with beekeeping during the "down" time.

With Virginia weather being the way it is, we recently had a warmer day of about 55 degrees, and I noticed that some of my bees were buzzing around my deck and having a drink at my cat's water bowl. I decided that a hive visit was in order.

Wow what activity! It was exciting to see the bees buzzing around and some were even collecting pollen!

Except......for one activity....none, zip, nada...zilch. I had noticed that a fair amount of bees were dead and laying on the ground in front of the hive. Being that this is my first winter, I knew some would die, I just didn't know how many was considered too much.

This particular hive had more dead bees that the other hives had, but I thought what do I know? (get some bees, it will be fun) So I popped open the cover.... and no bees, no activity.... nothing. My heart sank. I had done everything "right" or so I thought. The comb looked great, and there was no sign of queen cells. I had treated for mites a few times and my bees were still gone.

However, there was plenty of honey to extract. I think the saying goes, when life takes away your bees, make honey! So make honey I did, 34 lbs. to be exact.

Here is a "tip" from the newbie. Honey will NOT flow no matter how hard you crank the extractor, when the temperature is 50 degrees or below. So, I brought the frames inside my house for a few days and then the honey just flowed freely.

None of the books say anything about a winter "honey flow” and I realized that bees cannot read and will do exactly what they want to do. The bad news is that a few days later, I lost yet another hive, but the good news is I now have 78 lbs. of extracted honey.

I guess the next thing I will learn is bottling and be continued....stay tuned.

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