Well, we’ve lost two out of our four hives. Still trying to process the hows and whys, which I am sure will be reflected in another post. On the other hand, we were winterizing with some bee cozies and noticed some new behaviour: on one hive whenever we opened the outer cover and the inner cover is exposed about 50 bees are walking around sticking their abdomens/stingers in the air. Even when we remove the inner cover and the tops of the frames are exposed, the same thing was happening. They weren’t not hostile (save for one lady), and notably this is now one of our strongest hives (2 deeps, 1 & 1/2 supers full, screened bottom board). We’re not worried as their population is high, decent weight going into the winter just — odd behaviour we have not seen before.
So off to my favourite beekeeping forum to look for some answers: beesource.com
The helpful thread I found was entitled “Why are the bees sticking their butts in the air?” which perfectly explemplifies my query.
One group of beekeepers was leaning towards fanning and releasing pheromones to lost bees, the other took the defence and claimed this as a defence, and for which I am apt to agree base on the environment and “state of the union” in our bee yard.
Our bees were not aggressive but you could see they were annoyed and there were DEFINITELY a lot of stingers up in the air pointed towards us. And this makes sense, since it was 5pm and mighty chilly out. I would be quite put off if I came home and the door was left wide open on a super cold day, no heating indoors and it appeared that someone was coming to steal all our goods.
One bee mustered up enough energy and took a charge at Dan’s hand. Lucky he did not get stung.
My conclusion, bit too cold to open the hive – yes, but we got the cedar shavings on for moisture absorption, some insulation and biological control to keep the wax moth away (moths don’t like cedar). So, tomorrow night once I remember to get some old newspaper from work I’ll make our annual candy board (three are already on the other surviving hives, just didn’t have enough) and pollen patty surprise in the middle. Harden it off, install and add the bee cozy. Not the bee tea cozy. Then we’ll all be snug up in our hive for the winter.
If you like this bee cozy tea cozy you can find this from Farm Fresh Knits on Etsy. I am going to nudge the mum as this would be a perfect Christmas stocking stuffer!