December ’22 In the Apiary

By Kathy Cox

Ho Ho Ho! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. It is a needed break from beekeeping, but don’t forget the bees. Make sure they have food. Either honey or dry sugar are good. Also, the bees are constantly dying off and the undertaker bees can’t fly the dead out in this cold weather. If you have snow, you will notice lots of dead bees on the white cold crust of snow. Some are those undertakers who remove a dead bee but get too cold to come back home. Give them some help and slide the hook end of your hive tool into the bottom board and scoop out the bee bodies. If you have moisture quilts on, make sure the wood shavings are not wet. If they are, dump them and put on fresh. If you use moisture boards, have extra so you can swap them out when they are wet.

Just like gardeners who can’t wait for the new seed catalogs, we beekeepers await the new bee catalogs. It is a good time to think about what things you would have liked to have had in your bee yard. It is always a good idea to get your orders to the vendors early, because the supplies can run out. And, if you buy woodenware, you need to get it painted several weeks before you introduce the bees. And don’t forget to get a new bee book. Add to your library. You should always learn new bee things about your passion.

Other things to get on your list are bees! In my opinion getting local nucs are the best. They come from overwintered local queens who are accustomed to our climate. Packages and nucs from California are not always good for us. If the weather when the queens are raised is wet, they may not get well mated. In that case, they are often superseded. This is a problem if it happens when a honey flow is on. Nucs build up faster than packages and usually have a good-sized colony for our blackberry flow. In addition, they give you drawn comb which is so important in new hives. A queen can’t lay eggs or bees can’t deposit nectar unless there is drawn comb. PSBA has vendors that come to our meetings in January and February. Check them out.

Make sure your membership is up to date so you can get on the swarm list. Subscribe to the newsletter by entering your email on the website.

Our meetings will be hybrid next year. Come in person or come via zoom. We hope to see you then. Come at 6:30 for the beginner meeting. Tracy Klein, a Master Beekeeper, will give you pointers and answers to your questions. We are looking forward to a new president, Dawn Beck who is also a Master Beekeeper. This year we have a full board and are excited to bring back our community feel. Please join us and bee the best beekeeper you can bee.

And to add to your list, a class on honey bees is a good idea. PSBA has classes on the website by the end of January. They are taught by Journeymen and Master Beekeepers.

Looking forward to a Spring that is nothing like we had last year. Until January, Bee Happy and Bee Kind!