Friday, December 05, 2008

Under wraps

Just in time for a little snow and a cold snap (10 degrees!), I got the hive all bundled up.

Lest you think I'm completely nuts, suggests using a hive cozy so the bees can make their honey stores last longer. They don't have to use as much energy to stay warm. A Goodwill sleeping bag wrapped in plastic fits the bill.

It looks all wrapped up, but the south-facing entrance is not covered.
I have some good news, too. I joined a Yahoo group about feral bees and one of the members looked at the video of the hovering squadron (that's a still photo of it above, in warmer weather) and said those were not robbers but young bees that were orienting themselves to the hive and exercising their wings. Healthy behavior, along with guard bees hanging out at the entrance.

And I learned that this chunk-of-tree-with-hive is called a "bee gum." I've seen the term before, but never really knew what it meant. Though strictly speaking, a bee gum would be a piece of trunk (from a gum tree or any tree) that has been hollowed out and roofed to make a hive, much like a skep. The photo at left is from the North Carolina Museum of History. Beekeeping seems to have been a pretty big deal in Appalachia.

I could spend days mucking about online, reading about bees.

P.S. I've since learned a little more about the importance of ventilation, so I'm rethinking the whole insulation and plastic setup. More on that later.


  1. How cool! Those south-facing entrance bees look pretty happy. Does this mean that anyone with a hollowed out tree might be able to create a hive there? I'm learning so much about bees on your blog lately.

  2. My grandfather in Germany's Black Forest kept bees. He gave us large tins of a very dark , very tasty forest honey for birthday and other presents.

  3. I love reading about your bees! My friend just did an article about bees in Hawaii. Apparently there's this mite (I think it was a mite) that's threatening to wipe out all the bees here. :( I'm glad your bees are happy and healthy.

  4. JGH, any kind of hollow space can hold bees, but these days it's not legal to deliberately keep them in anything without removable frames. An inspector needs to be able to look at the comb and check for pests and diseases.

    It is too late in the year for me to move these bees into a legal box, but come spring, they will have to be removed from the log.

    Sibylle, lucky you! I wonder what kind of flowers the nectar was gathered from.

    Thanks, Kasey! Mites are a big problem for some beekeepers, especially the large commercial ones with hundreds of hives. Hence the inspectable-comb requirement. Bees that are being moved across the country to pollinate crops have to be certified mite-free.

    I imagine in Hawaii it's particularly scary because the bees have maybe less diversity, so if they are vulnerable to the mites, all the hives are vulnerable. And pollinators are hugely important there.

  5. I love it that I am learning so much about bees reading your blog. I guess everyone loves to receive honey. When I was too young to remember as much as I'd like, my parents had a friend who kept bees and for a while honey was their all-occasion (and always much-appreciated) gift.

  6. What a cool project. I love hearing about this and the new information on the young bees is fascinating.