January 24, 2021
Although the overall temperature has been mild, and I've seen some small amounts of bees outside once in a while, the past few days have been in the -10 to -18 degrees. The hive has snow on it's roof, serving as insulation, plus the rigid insulation panels we had put on top in October. The fluctuations usually aren't a problem for the bees, they adapt by expanding and contracting the cluster.
About stories of bees freezing and dying in the winter: If the colony is weak and the weather stays very cold for a long period, they might not be able to move away from the cluster to feed on the stores of honey, even if it's on the frame next to them. Remember, their bodies cannot move very well at 4 degrees or so. Besides a long cold spell, colonies don't die of cold. They can however, die of hunger if food stores are low, especially at the end of February and March, when the temperature warms up a little and they go out for some fresh air, looking for pollen, nectar and water and there's none. More on that in the coming weeks.
The area where the hive is now is shaded by trees for a few hours during the summer days. We were thinking of moving it to a more open area so it could benefit from the sun's rays more.
The Miellerie told us that hives could be moved, but ideally in the dead of winter when it's very cold. Richard and I prepared a section about 30 feet away in September, and layed down a large rubber mat to control the weeds and flowers. The more time goes by, the more we think about moving a bee hive that weigh 70 to 90 pounds in the snow, the less we think it's a good idea.
January is a good time to read on the subject and prepare for the coming months.
So, I've decided to add another hive. Yup. Placed my order today for a 4 frame nuc that should be ready in May. That is the one that will be placed further in the field.
If all goes well and my bees survive this winter, we should have a first honey flow and harvest in July!
Condensation at the hive entrance. Cold air enters the bottom, warm air leaves the hive by the top opening, letting the CO2 out and fresh air in. If I were to see condensation at the top entrance; that would mean too much humidity inside, and a problem for the bees.