Another very bad year for honey in Vermont.
Some home type bee keepers have told me they haven't looked in their hives yet. They are in for a surprise, a bad one.
I started feeding my bees a month ago and wonder if I fed them enough. 10 pounds each so far for both nukes and full hive.
I need to rock them the estimate the weight.
Then get a lot more sugar.
I use a 2 gallon bucket and put very hot water 2/3 full and start pouring in two 5 pound bags of sugar as I stir madly. Then let it sit and cool and be sure it is all disolved before pouring it in hive top feeders. A few bees are sneaky and get by the sides and die in the syrup but only a half dozen or so. And then other bugs get there too.
It is cheaper to feed bees than try to get new nukes each year, but if climate change brings rain during the honey flow time, it isnt worth it. Maybe there is a new disease that makes bees not work hard to bring in honey, but there are a lot of them and they are flying a lot during nice days.
Anyone have any thoughts or observations on this?
Peter Grant, 1614 S 116, Bristol, VT 05443
Now that the soil has drained, almost, I thought I might relay a little bee keeping experience to anyone interested in the events of the area. Killington was in the heart of the hit zone.
There was no internet in the morning, and the last I saw of the weather report was the night before about 10pm. The storm was striking the tip of the Carolinas and it was unclear what would happen as it usually is. In the morning, the rain was steadily picking up. It was as hard a rain as any at sea, and anyone who knows what that means, well, knows what that means. You had to keep looking and going outside because amazing things were happening. Water was erupting like fountains several inches out of the ground in places this is unheard of. I half expected animals coming to my house in twos.
Looking out from the second floor window, I realized that things might be a little more severe than I was expecting. Upon occasion a heavy storm or spring melt will flood my valley, or a few beaver dams will breach and block a culvert or two. In my years here, I've seen these things, as many towns do, but this time was different. Things were happening very quickly. I noticed the water level rising noticeably in terms of minutes. At first I was in disbelief. Knowing my hives were in trouble and not wanting to open them in these ridiculous rains, I left to get a two wheeled hand delivery truck from a friend of mine three miles away.
The trip there and back is another story, suffice to say I wasted no time in getting back. The water was more than 18" higher in a span of 20 minutes and was already an inch above the hive entrances. No time for a smoker! I stuffed an entrance screen in the front opening of the first hive. When I leaned the two wheeler back, the rush and weight of water that was in the hive popped the screen right out and the bees finally had the chance to see what was going on out there. In my haste, the boxes shifted relative to the stack and more eagerly joined the fray.
The first hive was wheeled up a dozen steps and I went for the second. I didn't bother with the screen this time. Time was short, so pretty much the same things happened and the hive was brought to safety. The defending bees would be thrown down to the ground by sheets of rain only to shake it off and take flight and fight. Within minutes they quelled the defence mode and started cleaning up the hive. The whole time the hummingbirds kept up dogfight games at the feeders as they do any other day.
The water continued to rise several more feet in the next few hours. The hives would have certainly perished. It occurred to me in one shining moment that Noah, too, must have kept bees, and that's good company. Now, if I can only keep off these bears...
We've heard reports of Vermont beekeepers losing hives to flooding and falling trees as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. This picture, from VBA Librarian Bill Marcinkowski shows his hives at Dog River Farm in Northfield. More pictures are available here.
If you've experienced losses in your apiaries we'd like to hear from you. Simply write your stories and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Include pictures if you have them.)
Or, if you are a VBA member you may login to the VBA site and choose the "Submit an Article" link at the left side of the page to submit your story directly. Again, please include pictures if you have them.
Any information and images received will be posted here and forwarded to Vermont State Apiculturist Steve Parise at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.