Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter is Here

So it looks like this winter is shaping up to be just like last year, lots of snow.  We've already had 3 little storms, nothing like last year's blizzards but still Philadelphia has already surpassed it's average annual snowfall of 20".

So much has happened since last I wrote, I'm not sure where to start.  I guess the bad news first.  The two hives in the little park where the tree was cut down have already died (these were the awesome bees from Vermont).  I was worried about them being kind of small in population and I guess I was right. There was still honey in the hive so they didn't starve. I am pretty sure some unknown person/people were messing with the hives. There were several times when I went to check on these hives and I could tell that things were not as I left them.  I also got reports from others that they saw people "leaning on the hives" - hard to imagine but stranger things have happened. This situation was not helped by the fact that the chain-link fence surrounding this park was destroyed by the tree removal and this allowed anyone to just walk right up to the hives.

I was pretty bummed by the loss of these bees and by the overall failure of this site but the silver lining to the dead bees is that they made lots of nice, drawn-out honeycomb last year.  This drawn comb is a valuable resource and it will help my new bees to get a quick start on building their new home. I was planning on moving these 2 hives to Woodford Mansion in East Fairmount Park, but since they didn't make it, instead I have ordered 2 new packages of bees from the Seaborns and will install them at Woodford in early April.

My 3 other hives appear to be doing well.  On a recent warmish day in December the bees in my home hive were busy cleaning house.  They were dragging out the dead and relieving themselves in the snow.  When we were out on the roof one little bee landed on Jolie and proceeded to poop right on her shirt! Hopefully these 3 hives survive the winter.

This spring I am hoping to do more bee removals and swarm captures.  This will help me to either grow my apiary or be able to provide other beekeepers with some bees.

As a follow-up to the the Langstroth celebration and Honey Fest, which was a huge success, the Guild is bringing Ross Conrad to speak in Philadelphia in February.  Ross is the author of Natural Beekeeping, which is a book on keeping bees using organic management techniques. Registration has already begun and it looks like it is going to be a great turnout.

There's more to write but I just wanted to get a quick update written.   Stay tuned...


  1. I was thinking about ordering from the Seaborns too. Have you ordered from them in the past? If you did order from them in the past did the bees come with Verroa?

    A friend of mine went all the way up to New England for Nucs and the nuc had hive beetles in it. I think when you go all natural that is normal but still frustrating.

  2. I'm impressed you were able to find a spot in a park to keep the bees - I've only been following since honey festival, so I went back and read up on how you got that going. It seems like it would have significant challenges, kind of like dealing with bears in the country.

  3. Matt -
    I have ordered from the Seaborns before and I like their bees a lot. They have done well for me in Philadelphia. I think hive beetles are everywhere these days but seeing a few in the hive is no big deal. If you are seeing lots and lots, then it can be a problem.

    Gary -
    Yes, here in the city we have a slightly different set of problems than rural beekeepers, but they are problems nonetheless. Every day is a learning experience!

  4. It's nice that you can leave hives on the city park but it was bad enough that the fence was removed. It's worse that some people are "leaning on the hives". Seems like they are not afraid of having stings.