Some of our colonies out in the Fraser Valley, with accompanying four-leged companions and Amanda. Photo: Jeff Lee

Our beautiful sunny, warm – and utimately deadly – fall weather

I am sure that I have seen this before, this long, winding fall of sun and warmth, where even the leaves on the maples and horse chestnuts remain unreasonably green.

But somehow, this fall seems different, far beyond the Indian Summer we sometimes get. The smatterings of rain we’ve had in recent weeks have been chased away by constant highs accompanied by unseasonably warm temperatures.

Is this what global warming or climate change feels like?

I know this glorious weather won’t last; even this weekend there is a call for a long period of rain and we’re heading for cooler temperatures. The weather, of course, is playing havoc with both bees and beekeepers. Our colonies are active and strong – even too strong, it would seem, eating into stores we want them to keep for the winter ahead. The bees are out searching for forage, but as fall wanes towards winter there is less and less, and yet the weather is telling them to keep searching.

I’m told we may be in for a mild winter. Inherently I think this must be unwelcome news. Days are ahead when the bees don’t know whether to stay inside or go out, only to find that forage is either non-existent or skimpy. Stan Reist of Flying Dutchman Honey has warned of these marginal days, these “fly and die” days when the bees go out looking for food only to get too chilled to get back home as the sun goes down.

We’re actively feeding now, a 2:1 mixture with a little bit of lemongrass additive that gives the hive a somewhat exotic smell. We’re also still putting pollen patties on to encourage the late fall production of the “winter bees” that will keep the hives warm. Gallon after gallon, patty after patty, the bees take it all greedily.

With more than 80 colonies now, we’re finding the workload heavy. But I recently made a device that is already helping shave down the valuable hours we’ve been spending in the bee yard. It’s a small electric pump for filling the sugar tanks and baggies we use in feeding the bees.

I’ll describe this in the next post.

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