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Stings of winter bees

Don’t be confused. Today’s post has nothing to do with science or facts; it has only to do with an inkling I get about wintertime honey bees. After years of first-hand observation, it seems to me that the stings of winter bees are worse than the stings of summer bees. Yesterday provided a perfect example. […] Read more

An upper entrance in winter

For nearly ten years, I have not put upper entrances in my winter hives. My primary concern for winter was ventilation, but since I began using ventilated quilts on the top and screens on the bottom, I haven’t had any moisture or ventilation problems at all. My hives stayed dry and upper entrances seemed like […] Read more

winter hive check: what to look for

When you check your winter hives, what do you look for? How often? Should you open them? Should you use a checklist? What if something is wrong? The answer for me is simple: I get nervous as a cat if I don’t check my hives at least once a week all winter long. But “check” […] Read more

Have beekeepers gone bananas?

Every few years we raise a new crop of beekeepers who want to feed bananas to their bees as a winter supplement. The forums are filled with anecdotal stories of bees thriving on ripe bananas while overcoming every imaginable pathogen and parasite. A recent Instagram posting explained that the potassium in bananas will help the […] Read more

wintertime projects: skeps and honey pots

Over many years of blogging, certain beekeepers have kept me entertained by sending photos of their latest creative masterpieces. One of those is Michael Skeels of Frenchtown, Montana. Like others with a creative streak, Michael uses the long winters to prepare for bee season. This year he writes: You know how winter can be long […] Read more

Wasps aplenty follow a mild winter

A long stretch of freezing weather is the best wasp control. Many of the overwintering queens succumb to the cold, which limits the nest density the following spring. But after a mild winter such as we had on the Pacific Northwest coast, the queens thrive in vast numbers. This is the worst year I have […] Read more

A Montana bee house from a Dutch design

Earlier this year, on March 24, I posted a story about 74-year-old Dutch beekeeper Evert Jan van Tongeren. In that story, Evert Jan shared the history of the Lorsch Bee Blessing, invoked to make swarms return home. He also included some photos of his bee house and the ban mask that wards off evil spirits. […] Read more