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Author Topic: Winter hibernation of honeybees....  (Read 1114 times)
SerenaSYH
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« on: September 30, 2011, 12:11:17 AM »

Everyone, I was talking with my rose gardener friend about how amazingly long Russian sage will bloom (in my garden it keeps blooming from May 1st until the first snow hits- later November) and I told him that this year for 2011, I'm going to take notes and a photo of the last honeybee to visit my garden.

I wrote him this about someone's blog:

http://bevscoloradogarden.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html

Also look real close at the silver branches at the top…Even though the bush is turning white there are still distinct flowers on it those flowers are still vital because in my garden you will still see honeybees braving the cold for one last go at it!


So I was curious along those lines, what dictates a normal feral hives' last winter sojourn versus a domesticated hive. My guess is that you beekeepers start homefeeding your bees to bring them in? instead of the domesticated bees using up precious energy trying to forage for the last remaining nectar sources??

Just curious and lurking as to how everyone approaches the winter....
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 03:57:01 AM »

Any winter flowering Camellia’s in your garden? Smiley

There’s slim pickings around Michigan at this point.  The plants are dying off for the year.  The winter time low pressure seems to be settling over us.  Things like cosmos and asters and Russian Sage still have flowers, but I wonder if the bees are really getting nectar or just pollen from these flowers at this point?
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T Beek
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 05:11:11 AM »

Very little (if any) nectar available in North Wisconsin right now.  We've already gotten some hard frosts.  Our Russian Sage has been done for a few days.  They are still hitting on the purple mallow in our garden, it'll keep blooming until temps get into the teens consistently, very tough little plant.

We had 70 (F) the other day w/ little to nothing for my bees to forage on (even the asters are no longer luring my bees), thus I open feed 2-1 syrup in a bucket and put out some pollen out on a plate as long as temps climb into the 50's or above. 

It equals an extension of season and keeps my bees from consuming too many stores from inside hives before Winter really kicks in gear.

thomas
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"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."
Vance G
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 10:57:58 AM »

I have more bees in my yard than I did all summer.  At first light they are working the night blooming datura and again late in the day when they have to pry their way in to the flower.  I still have roses, russian sage, rudbeckia, asters and joe pye weed in bloom.  One of these nights that will all change, we are late for a killer frost.  I will hate to see the tomatoes get it. 
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SerenaSYH
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« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2011, 07:19:57 AM »

Thanks Vance, Tbeek, and BlueBee! I think it would be really cool to keep track of the dates every year to compare...And to assess the honeybee activity.... And when you decided to "hibernate" your hives; what transitions you made (like what Thomas described); last year versus this year; etc. In Kansas everything was a month early in terms of how warm the weather turned. In early March we had 80 degree weather!  shocked Back when I was a kid we used to get avalanche type of snows, like really bitterly cold winters and snow even in May, but not for over 15 years now...! I was actually expecting a very warm and hot October/November like last year, but it was far cooler than what I predicted.

And neither did I expect you folks in the Northern States to be that cold already in terms of the hard frosts. I hear that in Minnesota it's been been a scorcher of a summer as with Canada (in the 100s in Ontario for 2011)....

BlueBee and Vance, it seems that honeybees are workaholics if given the chance....

Another thing: after comparing notes from many gardens, I now realize why some gardens have later blooming Russian sage...I do believe that the RS' natural state is to bloom very, very early like May, but people are reporting July many a time....I am thinking the reason is that they are pruning their Russian sage...I just discovered this a few days after I wrote up this thread..I couldn't figure out why in my locale we had such early Russian sage....until I put 2 and 2 together....All the ones that were left tall and big did indeed have that super early bloomtime.

BlueBee, I love, love, loooove camelias but they don't grow in our zone and would hate our alkaline heavy clay soils...My dad has gardenias though, but he brings them into the garage for the winter...Hey, I thought bees would not like camelias??? Kansas honeybees though are notoriously picky...

Vance it seems you are experiencing the high amount of bee foraging that I am experience so let's keep our eyes peeled to see if this year's killer frosts will be super late...Here in my locale, we used to get killer frosts around mid-October when I was a kid. As an adult, the killer frosts are now in mid-December....I consider a true killer frost when things actually die (non-revivable) and the frost remains during the day....I call it crunchy grass, lol! In 2009, we got verrrrrrry cold but it was only during mid-January and mid-February, 12 degree-17 degree temps. But then after the cold period, the temps soared straight up and Spring literally felt like Summer.

Just to be sure, Thomas, do you prune your Russian sage at all? Mine is left completely unchecked. I wouldn't be surprised it that RS turns out to be some sort of mutant giant in my garden. I refuse to prune because I can't stand losing even a single purple petal!!! My RS is like the energizer bunny, they keep going and going and going....Not once has that plant ever ceased to bloom. Also note: first year RS does not count in terms of early blooming. It seems that they spend a lot of their time acclimating to the soil and adjusting themselves to their new environment when first planted. I noticed that all of my 1st year RS take awhile to get established and only afterwards will they bloom...But once in the garden, yup, RS is a super early plant to bloom for me.....

Russian sage in my climate is one of the hardiest winter plants, it never stops until it actually snows and it seems to laugh at the hard frost....



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LoriMNnice
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« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2011, 06:17:56 PM »

I hear that in Minnesota it's been been a scorcher of a summer

LOL I wouldn't say scorcher but had a few hot days Smiley
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T Beek
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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 06:09:39 PM »

We don't prune our Russian Sage, except for the occasional stem for the kitchen table.  Starts blooming early July and will provide flowers until killing frost.

thomas
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SerenaSYH
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 06:50:54 AM »

Well, I'm glad it wasn't unbearable, Lori....It was a scorcher in Kansas this summer....!

Thomas thanks for letting me know! It also puts me back to square one in terms of trying to figure out why mine and a few other RS in my locale start blooming in May....It's a total mystery now, lol! I was out today, enjoying all the buzzing girlies clustering around my RS!
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T Beek
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 07:48:29 AM »

Our average last/first frost dates have grown further apart just over the last 30 years I've been in this one spot (from about 90 days to 120).  Its not unusual for plants to bloom at different times, especially when nearly a thousand miles away from the other. 

The ground can still be partially frozen up here in May.

After night temps in the 20's a couple weeks ago (killing frost) we are experiencing unusually warm weather in North Wisconsin.  My bees have few if any options and since I don't want them to exhaust their stores before winter I am becoming a heavy investor in 'open feeding' sugar syrup. 

On the con side its been making it somewhat difficult to clean up the garden with all the flying about (not just bees but the dreaded Asian Beetles have arrived in force), but it (open feeding) sure gives a beek a good sense of how strong each colony is. 

I guess its important to always remember;  Honeybees are from the tropics.  If humans didn't try to keep them in such places as Wisconsin or Finland or New York, etc, they'd very like 'retake' their residence around the equator and die off every where else.

Current science tells us that if the world continues at its present pace we'll all be living in an environment very similar to Australia today (see latest Rolling Stone).  Whether bees hibernate or not will become a mute point for most I think.   (apologies for being so wordy this morning Wink)

thomas
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"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."
derekm
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2011, 11:59:18 AM »

In this country we have Gorse on heathland  that is in flower at at least a little all through winter and that includes hard frosts and snow.
The saying is "When Gorse is not in bloom, kissing is out of fashion". Luckily we have a lot of it nearby. For 50N to 60N we have mild weather but that depends on your definition of mild Smiley
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
SerenaSYH
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2011, 04:57:16 AM »

I love details Thomas! It really helps tremendously! So please, the wordier the better : rainbow sunflower

By the way are you referring to the Asian ladybug as the Asian beetle? They are said to be very annoying housepests but very beneficial to the trees and vegetables in helping eat harmful insects....
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/apr99/k7033-14i.jpg

I sort of wish I had Asian lady beetles because my Hollyhocks have become a total insect magnet and I need beneficials to start doing pest population culling against thrips lol! Instead, all I get are the annoying late season cucumber beetles that are the ladybug imitators. Gee do I hate cucumber beetles they constantly mess with my hybrid teas and damage the opening spiral format....

http://www.organicgardeninfo.com/images/spotted-cucumber-beetle.jpg

DerekM my rose gardener friend Dorset Mike dreads Gorse. It is a huge problem for rose gardeners because the spreading root network is a nightmare to deal with, but he also said that honeybees swarm that plant. But speaking of heathland, I love heath and heather and unsuccessfully tried to grow them. Only 4 plants survived out of 17. Our drought killed so many! I was very disappointed. The flowers are beautiful and I wanted the plants to succeed! But a beekeeper from Scotland on this forum told me that you have to grow acres of heath and heather in order to attract the honeybees. I would love to be able to someday taste heath honey too! Heath can be one of the earliest to bloom as well.
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T Beek
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2011, 07:36:13 AM »

SerenaSYH; I am talking about the 'imported' Asian Beetle, not our domestic ladybug which I have not seen in several years, thanks to the larger, more aggressive and 'stinky' Asian Beetle.  Please trust me, you do not want this 'pest' anywhere nearby.

We had no issues with any insect pests before these creatures arrived and no natural predators exist to keep them under control (but just give the 'controllers' time, they'll dump another species on us soon as a means to control).  

I am not kidding when I say they will have you running for cover.  They are especially nasty (did I mention that they bite?) after a few frosts, followed by a warm up when they fly out of the woods by the thousands while planting next years garlic crop and/or prepping the garden for winter.  I consider them a horrible nuisance perpetuated by dumb humans who grow dumber all the time (sorry Wink)  (there's a couple crawling on my computer screen as I'm typing, do you want them?  Just kidding Wink

thomas
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 07:47:00 AM by T Beek » Logged

"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."
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