It snowed in Katoomba a couple of days ago. This is an event of great delight to the locals as it happens rarely. At least before climate change and humans started destroying our planet. Snow is now almost an annual event. It’s now snowed 3 times in the last 5 years and in the previous 5 years – zero. Last year we had the great snow fall of 2015. It’s still talked about with sparkling eyes and ‘do you remember when’ glee. Yesterday wasn’t quite as great. But it was still snowing enough to cover trees and parks, and roofs and trampolines. And beehives.
Which leads me to this blog topic – bees and their hives in snow. The idea of golden honey bees and white glistening snow is quite aesthetically pleasing, the reality is quite different. There are quite a few good articles on the internet about how bees keep the hive consistently warm, and how in winter they huddle around the queen and take turns in some kind of rolling order to keep her (and them I guess) warm and fed. Caution must be had that they have enough food – and there is some magic experience that you can acquire at some point in your evolution as a beekeeper, that allows you to some how know if there are enough honey stores by actually picking up the hive and testing the weight. I am pretty confident I will never acquire this experience. I did put my ear up to the side to hear buzzing for the first time and I will find our old stethoscope to continue to keep an ear on the buzzing. Short of that I’m terrified of lifting the roof and looking into the little hole in the top to check for bees in fear of letting cold air in.
The bees shiver their wing muscles to keep the air warm within the hive. To think they work so hard to keep it regulated would break my heart if I let cold in to their hive and ruin it all. Amongst other websites – this “dummies” website does state that towards the end of winter you should be checking into the hive and feed them if you are concerned they need it – in readiness for spring. It would be towards the end of winter they’d run out of food stores I guess if there weren’t enough. As we get that far in the season I will write more about how it’s all going. For now though on my last inspection a few weeks ago there seemed to be a lot of honey.