Today was bitter sweet as I finished ‘winter prep’ for Mavis.  I will miss visiting the ladies and anticipate their survival!

It was just warm enough to consolidate the two hive bodies to one, clean out the bottom board of any bee debris (and I saw no signs of chalk brood – hooray!), and screw on the metal mouse guard.  The ladies looked great – healthy and vibrant, clustered and defensive – all good signs. Sorry so few photos – I was acting quickly!

mouseguard

My next visit will be during thaw in early January when I’ll feed them fondant.  But even in that scenario I won’t really see them – I’ll just maneuver as fast as possible to give them a good batch of feed that will hopefully last until the nectar flows in early spring.  I anticipate the first thorough inspection of the new year in March.

winter hive 2012

I debated whether or not to wrap the hive – as some beekeepers in cool, wet climates do.  The main killer over the winter months, besides starvation, is moisture, not cold. Some beekeepers feel it necessary to cover the hives to prevent moisture from seeping in – while others suggest letting the hive breathe – I’m following the lead of the latter. We’ll see how it stands up to the elements!

The winter months, while quiet in the field, will be busy inside with next year’s planning.  I plan to build new frames to replace some rickety ones, and will melt down some wax to create my own foundations.  I’m building up quite the library of beekeepers books and journals and I just finished Sue Hubbell’s a book of Bees (thank you, Leslie!).  She lists so many references that I’ll follow up on during the deep dark days.

I’m also planning on transferring ‘bee-mail’ to a blog – that both Sadie and I will manage – and post to.  Keep a look out for an announcement with a link!

In February there will be a two-day Bee Extravaganza:

OVERWiNTER w/ APiSOCIAL SATURDAYS  2/9 & 2/23 – where Sadie, Kathleen Richards and I will host a panel on beekeeping at the garden.  Both days are chock-a-block with amazing programs and I encourage you to attend!  Here’s a link: http://festooning.wordpress.com/events/

AND – last – but most certainly not least – The Leland Community Garden is hosting their annual Solstice Celebration of Friday, 12/21.  This ‘not-to-be-missed’ event is a long held tradition with candles, hot mulled cider, caroling and a beautiful community celebration of winter.  Activities begin around 6:30P and go on well in to the night.  I hope to see many of you there!

What an adventure!  It’s been an extraordinary 8 months of learning, observation, frustration, awe, and even drama!  It has been such a pleasure to share this with all of you! Thank you!

Have a beautiful holiday season – and I will write again in the New Year!

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