Submitted by J. Orem
It's Christmas time and I think alot about whether or not my bees are still alive. We put up lights and decorated at Church. I have helped to do the cards and a little shopping. I'm still not much help because of my shoulder surgery, but I'm trying. I think mostly about What Christmas really is to me. It is about the celebrating of the birth of my personal Lord and Savior. Without Jesus I'd be nothing. He is the Savior of the world and that is His gift to us. I watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas" and other movies and listen to Christmas music when I can. It's all good.
But at least once a day I wonder, are my bees still alive? In the big picture I know they are (as always) just a box of bugs. They are my boxes of bugs, they are in my care, so it is OK to wonder once in a while about how they are doing. I'm not sure if there is much you can do if you do know something is wrong. We can add candy bricks in the candy boards if they need it. We need to clear the entrance once in a while so the dead bees don't block the entrance.
I do like to knock on the hive once in a while. If you put your ear right on the box and give it one good knock you can usually hear them buzz back at you. Too much knocking will cause them to break the cluster and get cold. Don't do that 🙂 Sometimes you can hear them humming without even knocking. Sometimes the hive sounds weaker than others. It depends on the location of the cluster and the location of your ear. It is just great to hear them at all.
If the temperature gets to 50 degrees and sometimes less they will come out for a cleansing flight. Sometimes they won't fly. They just empty themselves at the entrance. Don't mistake this for Nosema. If they hold their waste for weeks then it's gonna get a little messy outside the hive. It is great to know they are alive and moving. If it is warm enough they will haul out some of their dead. It is actually good to see piles of dead bees in front of your hives this time of year.
So if you knock and it's quiet, wait till it is warm enough for cleansing flights and check for activity. If you know for sure the hive is dead it is good to clean it out and dry it out and get it ready for spring. You are going to need that valuable comb. It would also be good to do an autopsy and take some notes. You will have all spring and summer to correct any mistakes if you can find them.
Have a merry Christmas,