Though it's only November, the cold temps we've been having make it seem like it's January. I'm not totally opposed to the cold. In fact, I look forward to it every year. I love wrapping up in a comfy sweater and warm scarf. I'm thinking, though, by late January, if the frigid temps continue, I'm going to be more than ready for some spring and summer warmth. These cold temps so early also have me stressing over the bees. I know I can only do so much, which I'm trying to be sure to do, but I still worry.
Two weeks ago I removed the top cover on the beehive to put a fresh jar of sugar syrup in place of the empty jar. After removing the empty jar, I looked down through the frames. Nothing moved. Nothing. I couldn't see one single bee. In disappointment, I returned to the house to don my bee suit so I could go deeper into the hive to see if the bees were truly gone. As I was dressing, Funny Delightful Son asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was afraid all my bees were either dead or gone. He accompanied me to the hive to help me check. As soon as I removed the top cover, I saw the bees. They'd come up from wherever they had been in the hive for the new sugar syrup I'd put in place. A sense of relief washed over me. Funny Delightful Son teased me over my gloom and doom reaction to not seeing a bee the first time I'd opened the hive. "You know, Mom," he said matter-of-factly, "when it's cold, bees form a ball to create heat. They were most likely in a spot where you couldn't see them." Such a smartie pants.
Today the temps have warmed to right around 50 degrees. I knew I had to take advantage of the warmth to place a new jar of syrup in the hive. This time, when I opened the hive, a mass of bees were on the top bars. Some were even coming and going at the front entrance. I saw another drag a dead bee from the hive and take it to the ground a few feet in front. I decided to go ahead and install the mouse guard, just tacking it temporarily in place to see how it works. The space between the bars is barely enough for the bees to get through, so hopefully I'll not have mice getting into the hive and stealing all their food stores.
Though we're early into the winter weather, I'm feeling hopeful about wintering over my bees. At least they're still here at this point. The next four months will really be the test, though.