Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fickle February

February is such a tease of a month.  It starts out with Groundhog  Day;  if the groundhog sees its shadow we will have 6 more weeks of winter. In Minnesota, ONLY 6 more weeks of winter would be welcome. We know better than to  be that optimistic.
Most of this February has been very cold. Last weekend it warmed up enough to get a bit of fresh snow that made the dog tracks through the yard look  pillowy soft.
But then we got cold again. The birds seem to know when the weather  is going to change--they gorge themselves at the feeders.  It costs a small fortune to feed these little birds, at least as much as it costs to feed my 75 chickens!
Yesterday and today we enjoyed a brief,  balmy warm spell - almost 40 degrees! Snow melted and slid off the roofs. We should have known better than to leave lawn furniture on the stage; the garden bench was out of the way of the snow blower but right in the path of the barn roof avalanche. Broken to smithereens!
Snow on the east end of the barn roof is lying in wait for an unsuspecting person or dog to walk beneath it.
It was  so warm today today (but we are forecast for a blizzard, 60 mph winds and 10 to 14 inches of snow tomorrow!) so I decided I better check on my beehives - I have to order bees pronto if i need them.  I was expecting the worst and was happy to discover the top bar hive seemed pretty active and healthy. This is the view through the observation window. The bees were  moving about. I found a few dead bees on the snow; that’s a good thing-- the result of bee housekeeping on a warm day.
Wading through the deep snow from the top bar hive to the Warre hive at the bottom of the yard was good exercise--the snow had drifted thigh deep and was dense and wet.
The Warre hive did not look so good - lots of dead bees in front of the hive, and bee droppings all over the hive and the snow.
Bee poop polka dots on the top of the hive. Bees often suffer from dysentery in late winter/early spring because they are unable to clean the hive of droppings until it warms up, usually a January thaw, which we did not get this year. There might also have been too much moisture from so many bees breathing in a small closed space - this hive was very heavily populated last fall. Or worse, it could be nosema, bee diarrhea caused by a parasitic infection. This has been an especially stressful winter with unusual, unrelenting cold.   But when I put my ear to the hive I could hear a faint humming, so perhaps the hive will survive.  Nevertheless,  I think I will order two packages of bees to ensure I have at least two hives next summer.
I’ll close on a sweeter note--dark chocolate poppyseed cakes
and  savory heart turnovers with greens, mushrooms,  walnuts and creamcheese, made for
a Valentine party at our house last Friday, "Chocolate, Champagne & Love Songs.”  Thanks to the  Nodding Wild Onions for providing the music, and thanks to all our wonderful guests for bringing a bounty of bubbly and decadent chocolate delicacies.
Sending Valentine love to you all!


Sandra said...

Susan love the savory turnovers with the heart shape!

John Ringeling said...

did the bees make it? I just saw my hive looks exactly the same:(