Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Feeding the Bees

Yesterday the weather was warm and sunny. We reached a record high of 51 degrees and the bees took advantage of it. There was plenty of bee activity around the hives and the entire backyard for two or three hours during the warmest part of the day. Although I've seen them take short cleansing flights over the winter, yesterday they were stretching out for longer flights. I suspect that many of the older bees were leaving the hive for the last time, sacrificing themselves for the good of the group. Bees form an amazing democracy.

Today the weather is still warm but not sunny. There is far less activity outside the hives, as the bees are choosing to remain inside their shelters. We took the opportunity to unwrap the hive insulation covers and peek inside.

The blue hive looks great. The cluster of bees remains close to the entrance and they have plenty of honey stored in the combs. We looked only through the observation window, and chose to not open the cover or disturb this hive in any way. It's a big group of bees with mellow temperament, and they seem to be doing very well.

The green hive also looked busy through the observation window. We're more concerned about this hive because it's a much smaller cluster of bees, and they have fewer combs of stored honey. Nevertheless, this group seems more feisty than the blue hive, so I'm remaining optimistic. We quickly removed three top bars, creating just enough space to slip a hand inside. I removed three empty honey feeder cups that we had placed there in early November, and replaced them with two full honey cups. On warm days, the bees will be able to break cluster and gather the honey into the combs. We replaced the cover quickly and wrapped the hives again in the insulation blankets.

It's been an extremely mild winter. Perhaps Mother Nature is giving my bees a chance at survival. So far, so good.

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