Finally, the 2018 bees are getting started! The bees that survived the rough Catskill winter have already been stretching their legs and mapping the area for budding and future flora. The hives - many of them - where the bees did not make it have been cleaned out and are getting ready for their new residents.
What happened to the bees this winter, you ask? Well, they died. Despite being insulated and well stocked with food. Sigh. The numbers are depressing, actually. A look inside the hives shows two patterns: 1) they died with plenty of honey stores to make it, meaning they did not die of starvation as some do in a long winter, but of cold, and 2) some died late in the season where early warm temperatures tricked them into emerging early, followed by a series of cold snaps that did them in.
So, what are we going to do about it? First off, we are repopulating hives one by one. This year, instead of 5-frame nucs, we are installing 10-frame hives. Our big daddy bee buddy felt sorry for us and the rough winter we had and gave us a beehive staffing bonus. The new bees will have to spend less energy staffing up this way and will get a jump on the season. Plus, the foundation our late bees developed last season is a boon to our new bees. They will tidy it up and start filling it with honey. So, knock wood, you should stay tuned for a big bee season!
What about next winter? Well, we are already coming up with various strategies, not the least of which are continuing any and all efforts to stabilize our climate changes. On a smaller and less daunting scale, we are looking into moving all the hives south for the winter so they have a fighting chance. If you have some land in the sunny south that wouldn't mind some very small and hibernating guests from November to May, please let me know!
What else? Well, the BSA nearly had a twin BSA in Woodstock, NY this summer. But it didn't quite come together and the hives from that project are amplifying the original BSA from 10 hives to 18. That sounds like a lot, right? Well, we will probably end up at a lucky 13 hives, as a few friends have found themselves in need of five or more beehives at the last minute. It's great to have back up!
Soon, those of you who are shareholders in the BSA will get your hive assignments. Very exciting! We have nearly all of 2017's shareholders returning this year and an additional handful of new folks too (welcome!). Our new bees will move into their hives in the next week or so, so stay tuned for activity!