A long overdue update!

I can’t believe the last post we made was November of 2019. Seems like 10 years ago with the year we all have had! The winter in Vermont was mild and the bees fared quite well.

This photo was taken in early January. Our hive was very happy.
In February I was dying to know if the bees were alive. This stethoscope worked like a charm. They sounded like a car engine.

In late February a good sign bees are alive is seeing specks of brown and yellow on the snow. This is from their cleansing flights on warmer days. Bees do not defecate in their home and can hold it for a long time. It’s also a good time to feed the bees as food stores should be getting low. Most bees die at this time of you don’t feed. I (Tiffany) made the bees some fondant that was placed on a sugar board. I never thought I’d be so excited to see bee poo and pee scattered on snow.

Homemade fondant.
White snow is a helpful tool!
The twins wanted to hear what the bees sounded like.

It was very tricky this spring to figure out when to take off the winter covering. The snow melted then we were hit with some random snow storms all the way into May. I wasn’t able to get any pictures of what it looked like inside the hive. Due to the pandemic we had no one to watch the kids for us to both do it.

Underneath the blue hive wrap was a lot of dead bees. The hives were stained from the decaying bees and defecation. Once opening the hive it was so exciting to see all the happy bees that made it though winter.

I did a few hive inspections and things seemed to be going great. We experienced a a very dry June here. Vegetation and berries weren’t growing yet. I woke up the morning of June 19th and thought maybe it’s time to put a honey super on. Full of excitement to finally get some honey! The twins and I went to our friends to see their chickens and play at the lake. When I got to her house Eric called me. He was mowing the lawn and found quite the site at the bee yard. A very hungry bear had himself a day and annihilated our hive.

That cinder block was on top of the hive and thrown. Also where it lays was thick grass the bear dug out.
To the left you can see where the bear tried to get the hive. He was shocked by the electric fence. Then he dug a hole to the right and went under the fence. He also left a trail of frames into the woods.

Because this happened on June 19th, it was a little late to get another package or nuc built up to ensure the winter. At the time we thought we could build a platform behind the garage and start a hive there in the Spring of 2021. Our number one concern is the safety of our children.

Our county bee site was very helpful and gave us some usable tips. They suggested baiting the electric fence with tin foil and peanut butter. Also secure the hive with a metal ratchet strap sold by Mann Lake. This way the hive would stay together when a bear knocks the hive over and a bear won’t be able to get in.

Two days after this happened our fears of bringing danger closer to our children felt justified. A bear got into our trash (which is built right off the garage). For now we are taking a temporary pause for at least a year perhaps a permanent one. Honestly we can’t make up our mind and aren’t ready to commit to letting this hobby go. Nature is so humbling!

Also if you didn’t noticed we didn’t sugar this year. We were really enjoying our time skiing this winter. With juggling jobs, school and the kids we thought it was a good year to take a break. Then we all went on lock down. Sadly it was too late for us to get the trees tapped and the shack ready to go.

Stay tuned to our sugaring journey winter/spring of 2021. Grandpa will be here to help us. He and Tiffany plan to do all the boiling. While Eric and Grandpa will do the heavy lifting. In a few weeks we will walk the trees to check the lines to make sure nothing is blocking them.

We hope you all are staying safe! 🐝 🍁

-Eric and Tiffany

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