A Dog In The Manger
Don’t fall for that naughty list line. We contain multitudes. You bring so much nice into this world—even if you have naughty moments. And you deserve nothing but love for your efforts.
— Veli, who is really testing that naughty list thing with a skunk encounter, an altercation with Todd’s dogs, an adventure letting herself out the front gate, and trying to get a little taste of guinea hen….all in the same week. (Don’t worry, the guinea is miraculously fine after I pried it out of her mouth.)
Here’s What’s Happening At Good Spirits Farm
It has been an unusually warm winter so far, so I am slow to put the bees to bed for the season. Last weekend, I finally finished the chore of removing empty honey frames (which gives them less territory to defend from pests), and adding a layer of “emergency bee candy” to the top of each hive.
This candy is essentially sugar, a touch of vinegar, and water mixed into a texture that forms a solid brick. You put it on a sheet of wax paper at the very top of the hive’s interior. Bees start the winter in a giant bee ball at the bottom of the hive, eating their way through their honey supplies from the bottom up as they huddle to stay warm. If they get to the top before spring hits, the candy is waiting.
One hive, when I opened the lid, was already clustered at the top of the box, looking for food. I fear it’s going to be a hard winter for the bees, because the warm weather sends them out foraging — an energy-intensive activity—but there is nothing to actually eat. While deep, deep cold can kill a hive, so too can a bunch of days of activity but no pollen.
Before we closed up the hives, we added a moisture board under the lid. In winter, moisture is a hive’s worst enemy. They stay warm by beating their wings, but this work can create condensation. Condensation dripping off the lid and down onto the hive is a nightmare for hive health, so these boards absorb moisture and hopefully keep drips to a minimum.
Finally, we narrowed the entrances to the hive which keeps other hives from trying to steal honey supplies and reduces drafts. A bit of painter’s tape went around any edges where gaps in the hive might let the wind in, too.
Usually, I put bee candy in the hives and then don’t check them again until spring. However, with all the warm weather, I think I will have to be more proactive this year. Send your best vibes for getting all 11 hives through to when the maple trees bloom next year!
Here’s What I Loved This Week
Thank you all so much for the overwhelming honey support! I am SOLD OUT! What a rush! Truly, I am so grateful for all of you reaching out to keep this little farm in business. It means so much to me to be able to ship something I am really proud of (and worked really hard on!!!) out across the country.
May your holidays have a little razzle-dazzle and a little chaos, just like every day on this farm I am so lucky to call home. Merry Christmas, y’all.
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