Wednesday, December 17, 2014

“In the depth of winter... within me there lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

Sorry for the long silence. I've been distracted by a lot of things -- making Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving stuff, Christmas events and parties, gift shopping, company, etc. With back-to-back holidays from October through December, it's always a hectic time for me. However, things are well in hand now, so I can actually enjoy the last week before Christmas.

Ok, not exactly a bee photo, but it's proof that I
haven't been sitting idly by. ;-)
Here is the little one in her nearly finished costume.
(Elsa has to have sparkles, right?)
This one always picks out something fun. He has
to make up for his pragmatic older brother who
can't see the point of trick-or-treating when he can enjoy an
enormous bowl of candy in the comfort of his own home.
Before that, though, comes my favoritest day of the year -- the Winter Solstice! It's probably some vestigial streak of barbarian/pagan left in me that loves this day so much. Not because it's the darkest day of the year but because I know that from here on out the days are going to get longer and longer. Hooray! My annual plague of melancholy that lasts between Thanksgiving and Christmas is over. I can shake off the blahs and start looking forward to spring! Glorious spring!

Now that I have bees, the winter solstice is doubly special. The colony won't really explode in size until mid to late February, but that growth begins now. Shortly after the winter solstice (it could be the day after or within a couple of weeks after), the queen begins to lay eggs in preparation for spring. 

Of course, the next 6-8 weeks (until the maple and willows start blooming) will be kind of a tricky time for the bees in this northern climate. Up until now, the adults have been getting by keeping the hive temperature about 70 degrees F. With brood in the nest, though, they'll have to raise temps to 95 degrees F. This means an accelerated consumption of resources during the coldest part of the year when there is nothing coming into the hive.

Enjoying some sunshine

So far, my hives are all alive and, I hope, well. The electric fence has done its job keeping out all unwanted Pooh bears. However, I've been concerned over our unusually warm weather because the bees have been pretty active. I worry about them eating more honey than they would if they were huddled up in a mass. I dare not open the the hives, but this past week, we had weather in the mid 40's and all of the colonies were making cleansing flights. Persephone and Peach had the most activity. Not sure if that means they're the strongest or simply the most foolhardy. ;-) I also took a very quick peek through Austeja's observation window. The girls were clustered on the first couple of bars, and seemed to have ample honey. We'll see what they look like in a couple of months.

In any case, we're entering the homestretch. Fingers crossed. Spring is just ahead. 


  1. Great post, Julie, and great costumes! I've been thinking about the Solstice also and like you, now that I keep bees, it signals the start of a new season of hope (and some worry). I hope your bees make it. We've also been having mild weather and my bees have been flying a lot. Come January, on one of our warm days I might add some fondant. I did that last year, but they never touched it, but it never hurts as a backup.

    How is your honey experiment going? I've been sick the past 3 days and have been thinking that I need to start taking daily honey as a precaution.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Sorry to hear that you're not feeling well. :( Hope it's nothing serious and that you start feeling better soon. Some honey can only help, I think!

      I'm not very good about taking honey every night before going to bed, but here is what I've noticed. 1) I sleep best if I take 1 Tbsp of honey all by itself about 30 min before bed. 2) Honey gives me incredibly vivid, crazy dreams. I don't think I wrote about this, but I was given a copy of Fessenden's book recently, and he mentioned that many people report vivid dreams when taking honey. This stood out to me because it was something I'd already noticed.
      He claims that it's because honey causes people to enter/stay in REM sleep.

      BTW, I've started using honey for everything else, too -- on my face, in my daughter's bath water, for rashes, etc. I had a cut that I put honey on (superficial, but deep enough to bleed a little), and within 36 hours, it was almost impossible to tell where the cut had been. Fessenden recommends taking between 3-5 Tbsp per day, so I've started doing is adding it to my tea, too. (Used to drink it without any sweetener). Besides making my tea awesome, I've noticed that I don't have as many cravings for junky sweets.

      That's interesting that your bees didn't touch the fondant last year. How many combs did you winter on? Were there any left in the spring?

      Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, too!

    2. There's a nasty bug going around out here and I've been out of work for 3 days. I've been drinking tea with honey, but I'm about at my limit with tea (I don't drink much of it, usually). My wife swears by honey as a cure for many things that ail us and I've tried putting it on cuts and had the same success as you! That's interesting about how it reduces your cravings for sweets! I'll have to try the honey before bed and see if I have the same resulting dreams.

      I left 16 combs last year (rather than the suggested 12) and still had some left over in the spring. However, the hive dwindled to almost nothing (I probably had less than 1000 bees) so there weren't as many mouths to feed. I did the same this year in BnB1, but BnB2 only built 10 full combs. I gave them a couple of crosscombed bars of honey from BnB1, but may have done that too late. They might need the fondant. BTW, the way I put the fondant in was to hang it from a bar in a manilla envelope with slits cut in it for access. It hangs easily by the flap squeezed between 2 bars.


Thank you for your comment! I can't wait to hear what you think!