A twenty-five pound bag of sugar is empty in the kitchen. Dinner was delayed because the stock pot of bubbling sugar water was taking up most of the stove space. All of my pyrex casseroles are filled with sweets that we won’t be eating. A five gallon bucket and a paint stirrer are coated with sugar syrup. And there are splatters of syrup everywhere–on the counters, on the (freshly mopped) floor, on the floor mats, even on my bee hat.
All the evidence points to John. He’s been making fondant for the bees.
We did nothing to prepare the bees for a hurricane. And nothing happened to them. That’s partly because they are on a sheltered hillside and mainly because the storm pounded north of us. Winter, however, has often hit the bees hard, so it is important to tuck them in for the season.
Today’s goal was to winterize the bees with insulation and to stock the hive with a store of fondant to eat throughout the barren winter months. Only half the task got done. Ironically, this November day was so warm that the bees were too active for John to wrap the hives. At least the floor and ceiling of the hives got winterized and the fondant placed in the feeder box.
A piece of insulation board is fitted to the bottom hive box. This will help protect the bees from cold air coming in underneath the hive.
On top of the hive, John puts a feeder box. It usually has a tray for sugar water, but for winter John removes the tray and fits the box with a piece of insulation. This will protect the top of the hive from cold air.
John places a big piece of fondant on top of the honey frames. The insulated lid sits on top of it.
Later, when it’s colder and the bees are staying inside, John will insulate the outside of the hive too.
Alas, insulating the bees is akin to having the tractor in working order—it’s one of Murphy’s Laws that if we are prepared for winter, we won’t get one.
Last week I got my first dose of winter on a day trip to New York City. I can wait for snow. For now, there’s plenty of autumn left to enjoy. Apparently the bees think so, too.