Midwinter Spring

on Wednesday, 25 January 2012. Posted in Winery Blog

A Warm Day in Winter

Yesterday, January 24th, was in the low fifty degrees of temperature on the coast of Maine. Not unusual for midwinter as we almost always get a brief thaw after a couple of months of cold. This will pass into the very snowy months of February and March even though there will be increasingly more daylight as we get closer to spring.

The bees took flight during the midday warmth. These are known as "cleansing flights" as the bees will not defecate inside the hive and so wait for decent weather to fly. Honeybees are very fastidious; they coat the inside of the hive with propolis, which is famous for it's antibacterial properties. It gives all the exposed wood on the inside of the hive a golden color. Thus, they live in a very clean environment. I was hoping they would be flying so I visited my two bee yards with a camera to record what was happening. The results are shown below.

I'm sad to report that I've lost three hives this winter to mites; a very tenacious and widespread pest. I had noticed one hive absconded in the fall. I feared the worst and so called the Maine State Bee Inspector to get his opinion on the hive collapse. We inspected the hive in late November. His opinion was collapse due to mite infestation. Beekeepers are now trying to breed bees with even greater hygenic behaviour so that they will groom the mites off of themselves. There is good progress being made on this front.

An interesting fact about honeybees and their pollination of plants and flowers; depending on the pollen source, there can be anywhere from 250,000 to 6,000,000 grains of pollen on one bee while it is foraging.


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