Busy times – new threats

Winter sucks.

Well, not too bad. It’s a good time to get gear repaired, read up on things and take classes. Learning is always cool. But what sucks is the not-knowing how those bees are doing out there!! Did I do enough? Are they damp? Are there enough stores? Oh my gosh – did I get the mite counts down low enough?!?!??

That’s the big one. Wind has been fierce, temps have been low and I’m pretty sure they’ve got shelter and stores to make it. But when I go out and see a dozen or more dead mites OUTSIDE the reducer – man. That makes me nervous…

Warm days and cleansing flights are few and far between out here on the high-plains of the Rocky Mountains. Opening a hive to see if they’re alive at the wrong time is a very effective way to kill them. So, I have to be patient for those warm days to return. Look for ‘spots’ in the snow in the mean time. Some are dead bees, some are ‘plops’ from cleansing flights. Just hope they’re doing OK in there.

So, gear is ready, bees are being bees and the news on the Varroa battle is optimistic. New method of applying Oxalic Acid that doesn’t require a vaporizor from Randy Oliver looks very promising. I’m more than a wee bit eager for his Excel Spread Sheet model of Varroa growth in a hive. That, coupled with good counts, can predict peaks in mite population and assist in determining effective times to treat. I was stoked with OAV – it’s a good tool. I’m eve more encouraged with these new tools.

To boot, we’ve detected European Paper Wasps in the county. First time I KNOW they’re here. They’re like Yellow Jackets, but don’t react to the normal YJ control methods. This is going to be a bit of a challenge.

Oh, and a microscope for Christmas is a huge bonus!! Building some saline petri dishes to do dissections with. This is a full on lab scope and includes an oil immersion lens. Almost too much for dissections. But great for looking at details. Now, to get a camera attached….

So, that’s the key to making it through winter, it seems. Stay busy and trust. They’ve been at this overwintering thing LONG before I showed up. At worst, all I can do is make it harder for them. I honestly think I’ve made it – at least – a wee bit easier.

So, enjoy some toast with your own honey on it from your last harvest. Pour one of the last glasses of last year’s mead. Pull up a comfy chair and let the dog on the sofa. Read ABJ and BC, again and some more. Make sure all your boxes, frames, stands and other gear are ready.

To plagiarize a meme from a popular series, “Prepare yourselves, Summer is come’n!”

See ya in the Spring!

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