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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

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

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

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

winter aconite attracts pollinators

Winter aconite, a tuber-producing plant in the buttercup family, is cherished by pollinators because it is one of the first flowers of spring. It will often pop through the snow ahead of the crocus and the cheery yellow blooms are a welcome addition to the dormant landscape. Native to Europe and Asia, winter aconite (Eranthis […] Read more