How are my bees doing? Well January 18th was an exceptionally warm day for the middle of winter in Iowa and it gave me a rare opportunity to see the bees flying for the first time in around two months. It ordinarily needs to be above 50 or 55 degrees and sunny for the bees to be out and flying. This day it was only 45 degrees but the sun was pretty intense and it warmed up the hive boxes enough that some of the hives had bees out flying. It is good for the bees to get a chance to get outside of the hive and take a cleansing flight. They do not ‘go to the bathroom’ inside of the hive. So in the cold months of winter they have to ‘hold it’ until a warm day comes along. Two months is a long time for that, but it’s not uncommon here in the Midwest.
All in all the bees are doing OK. One hive looks like it has died though. Of the 5 I started the winter with it was the smallest. I had fed it sugar syrup in the fall but they just never put enough of it away. I tried to give them a couple of frames of honey in December but the cluster of bees was already at the top of the hive boxes and I could not open the hive without exposing them to too much cold air.
The remaining 4 hives should be OK until spring. They started winter with more honey, but I will need to start lifting each hive soon to judge how much honey they have left.
I took this short video of the bees flying in front of one hive. This is a top bar hive. The sound is mostly a tree service grinding up some tree limbs somewhere in the neighborhood. But some of the buzz is actually the bees!