Thursday, January 8, 2015


Happy new year, all!

Here in my neck of the woods, temps were in the mid-40's to low 50's (Fahrenheit) during Christmas and up through New Year. Then overnight, they plunged down into the 20's. Last night, we enjoyed a spectacular low of -4F. With the windchill factor, it was more like -20 something. Even for southern New England, this seems unusually cold to me.

Mother Nature's capriciousness leaves me with some (wintry) mixed feelings. I cannot lie; I definitely enjoyed my balmy holiday. At the same time, it was bizarre seeing geese headed north the day after Christmas and spotting blossoms on a forsythia New Year's Eve. My main concerns regarding the weather were:
  1. Everything might bloom early and then die if we finally got a frost. This actually happened a few years ago.
  2. The bees would burn through their stores too quickly.
  3. It was plain freaky.
Anyway, my fears have been laid to rest as we're promised some miserably, though appropriately, cold weather at least till the end of the week.

This morning, I was kind of curious to see if the bees survived the night. So I bundled up in my warmest coat, hat, gloves, boots, and ski pants. Of course, they were all intelligently huddled up in their hives, but I have my ways of checking on them. For this occasion, I trotted out my DH's stethoscope. From deep in the hives came a very light buzzing from Austeja and Peach. At first, I couldn't hear the clusters in Persephone and Bubblegum, but after shifting the chestpiece around a bit, I found the fluttering of their little hearts. Hooray! 

Bubblegum looks rather like a Christmas package,
don't you think?

Last fall, I added some insulation on top of the bars and behind the follower boards. However, as an extra precaution against our unnaturally chilly temps, I decided to strap some styrofoam to the outside walls of the hive with bungee cords. As you can see from the photo above, I didn't cut the panels nicely because it was just too dang cold outside to be mucking about. As a result, the styrofoam panels don't all sit snugly against the hives, but they may still reduce some of the wind. That's my hope anyway.

Note to Self: Next time, just build hives with thicker walls -- maybe 2" -- so that you don't feel the need to cluck and fuss in 1 degree weather dressed like Randy from A Christmas Story.

Yeah, pretty much.


  1. Love the image! I'm at a conference of meteorologists in Phoenix this week and the cold outbreak is what everyone is talking about, but we're all enjoying the break down here. I sat outside for lunch yesterday and it was in the upper 70s. While I sat there, a little Italian honey bee came to visit and it gave me hope that spring can't be too far off. I had -16 in my bee yard last week, but I guess it was in the upper 50's in Colorado on Monday. I wish I had been there so I could sneak in to check on my bees and maybe add some fondant. I'll have to wait until the next thaw which hopefully won't be too long in coming.

    I use true 1" pine for my hives and I think that extra 1/4" helps. I put insulation under the top cover and on the bottom over the screen board on BnB1 because my carpentry skills left a lot to be desired on that bottom board. It seems like your side insulation is working!

    The good news is that your cold snap will end soon!

    Stay warm!

    1. -16! Yikes! You deserve a sunny (and possibly poolside?) break in Phoenix!

      Where do you find true 1" pine? I don't think I've ever seen that before. Apparently, woodworkers are not as picky as quilters -- that missing 1/4" really matters to me!

      You're right -- spring is just around the corner. I even bought a couple packets of seeds the other day. Can't plant them yet, but I couldn't help myself.

      Enjoy your trip!

    2. There's a lumber mill near my house where I get my raw lumber. We have a lot of our forests getting decimated by pine beetles so they saw up the dead trees. I can get enough wood for a hive for under $30.

      I forgot to say that when I was at the conference, I was standing talking to a friend of mine and another woman I didn't know. He asked me how my bees were doing and the woman started listening in on the conversation. She asked if I kept bees and when I said yes, she said she does also! When I told her I use TBH, she said she has both Langstroth and TBH, but she really likes the top bars better. Her TBH hives died last year, but she's looking to replace them this year. Beeks are everywhere!

      Back in Colorado now with freezing rain - wish I was still in Phoenix!

    3. Whoo hoo! Beeks are slowly, but surely, taking over!

      A lumber mill -- of course! There is one near me. Will definitely check it out. Thanks for the tip!

      Hope you stay warm and dry!


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