local-honey-bee-suppliesRJ Honey Farm

Winter Beekeeping #2


Opportunities like this are few in December.

Today it was 53 degrees. There are not many days like in December so I took advantage and headed back to the bee yard. What was I looking for? What did I do?

Learn to observe.

Did you see the yellow dots in the snow? The bees were flying and cleansing (aka pooping). That's a good thing. If you see brown stains all over the outside of the hive that is a sign of dysentery or nosema. They are not the same. One does not cause the other.

Dysentery is caused by the bees being stuck in the hive too long because of cold temperatures. They can't get out to cleanse. It also has a dietary component to it. Their gut gets bloated. And when they get out to go it is this brownish junk you see.

Nosema is caused by a fungal spore. There will be brown stains inside the hive and where they come out. This does not bode well for the hive. It has a high probability of dying.

It can be about impossible to tell the difference from observation. Tests can be done for nosema.

Did you see dead bees? Bees die in the hive all winter long. I saw the bees dragging dead ones out of the hives. Sometimes dead bees clog the entrance. I used my long hive tool to clean out several entrances which were clogged.

Did you see bees flying in and out? That's encouraging. There are bees alive in the hive.

It is still a long way to spring, but you're doing OK so far. Look for Winter Beekeeping #3 in January.