Honeybees Snowed Under

My honeybees hive will be buried under snow for the next few months.

Hive #1 (Nov. 30, 2010).

Between now and early spring, the bees inside the hive will cluster together in a big ball kind of like Antarctic penguins, taking turns moving from the colder outside of the ball (9°C) to the warmer inside (27°C). The queen is always on the inside. They shiver to create heat and slowly eat away at honey stores (about 50kg) until the spring. On warmer days (above 10°C) they may fly outside the hive to use the facilities because they don’t like to poop where they live. And that’s how honeybees survive in Newfoundland for nearly half the year.

If they managed to live through the winter and do well in the spring, I should be able to harvest some honey for the first time around August 2011. And lots of it. In the meantime, I’m looking for suggestions for a name to put on my honey jars (besides Claw Hammer Honey, which is strictly a limited edition).

About Phillip

Phillip Cairns is a beekeeper in St. John's, Newfoundland, who writes about beekeeping at mudsongs.org.

4 Replies to “Honeybees Snowed Under”

  1. Dear Prof. Phillip C. BeeExpert,

    Why is honey in stores a pure liquid and like that on the shelf for a couple of weeks, but when I’ve used about half the jar it starts getting crusties and eventually thickens to a sugary lump. Any way I can stop that from happening?

    Your biggest and most humble fan in the entire universe,

    • Natural honey will crystallize. You can’t stop it, but you can make it liquid again by heating it on low in the microwave.

  2. Sweet! and not just cause we’re talking about honey here! and no that’s not your new nickname! That’s good to know. I guess I’ve thrown out a bunch of usable honey then from the bottom of a lot of jars. I go through a LOT of honey. I usually buy 1 litre containers every few months, but usually only get about 800ml out of it before it’s just stuck to the bottom and I can’t get to it without cutting the jar in half. Which I’ve done.

    • I warmed up some creamed honey in the microwave yesterday to see what would happen. The method works with creamed honey too. 24 hours later and it’s still in liquid form. Nice.

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