Beehives after a Montana blizzard. Photo credit: Amy Grisak

On B.C.’s mild winter and the upcoming Beemaster course

It’s mid-January and we’re still in the middle of a gloriously dry winter that should be helping colonies in the Lower Mainland. It’s cold out, for sure, but at least it hasn’t been moist, so the bees should be faring well in their hives.
Unfortunately, I think we’ve lost one of our two hives. It was the problematic one we had last fall, the one that kept on losing queens and which went into the winter at less than optimal strength.
We don’t have snow to speak of right now, but we’re in the middle of an Arctic downdraft. It doesn’t seem to bother our bees too much because they’re sheltered up on a covered balcony. But I love this accompanying photograph of hives snowed in by a blizzard, taken by Amy Grisak of Montana for her Livinginseason blog, which has now been changed to Backyard Bounty.
We’ve not opened our hives at all since last fall, but from the scattering of dead bees on the pavement outside the apiary balcony I can see Amanda’s hive is strong enough that bees are going out for flights on those rare warm winter days. My side is “dead, Jim, dead”.
But maybe we’ll be lucky and there’s still a ball of bees in there around a queen and she will survive into the spring.
We’ve enrolled in the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture’s Beemaster program, a week-long intensive course that delves into everything from integrated pest management to the economics of commercial beekeeping. The course has been held semi-annually by the ministry for more than 60 years and is open to commercial, sideline and hobbyist beekeepers.
The last message I received last week from Paul Van Westendorp, the provincial apiarist, indicated that there was still some room available. The course runs Feb. 20-24 at the University of B.C.
We’ve been quiet on this blog in recent months simply because we were overwhelmed with family events outside our control, but we’re back now. We’re planning a number of blogs and videos themed around the never-ending education we’re getting. You can also expect we’ll post apiculture-related news from around the world as it occurs. In the meantime, our workshop has been a hive of activity in its own right as we assemble new boxes and frames. But more on that later.
Thanks for being with us on this journey.

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