And this, his latest inspired move, is beyond rad — a Day of the Dead beekeeper he commissioned from Austin artist, Cindy Raschke.
Despite being one of the coldest winters on record in Albuquerque (20° below, anyone?), we had our best beekeeping winter yet. 3 out of our 5 hives survived and those that survived all shared a single characteristic: We left 3 deep boxes full of honey and pollen for the girls.
Commercial beeks would likely gasp at our profligacy — how wanton! how wasteful! Why not dose up the hives with chemicals and sugar water and get that honey on the market? Giddyup.
But those who’ve read the studies coming out of University of Minnesota for the past 20 years are probably nodding their heads already. In a 1988 study, researchers Sugden at al.,came to the following conclusion:
Highest winter survival occured in colonies wintered in three brood chambers. There were no significant differences found between [the various types of insulation studied.]
p. 844 in The Hive and The Honey Bee
Thusly our girls survived Albuquerque’s Coldmageddon and we’re hoping it hints at a honey-filled summer ahead.
You’d be thirsty too if you’d just hibernated for 4 months.
Now that we’re consistently touching 60° in Albuquerque, my bees are out foraging and not just for pollen. The hunt for water is on! Though it’s only March, they’ve started to mob our water source, in this case a pet waterer (photos below), as they begin raising brood for the season.
How to provide water for bees in the city:
- Fill a pet waterer, pond, bucket, or bird bath (as illustrated by my niece Sasha) with fresh clean water.
- Provide rocks or floating mulch chips for the bees to land on, so they don’t drown.
- Be diligent about keeping the water source replenished, lest the bees move on to another source.
For urban beeks, providing a clean water source for your bees is the best way to ensure they don’t take a fatal dip in your neighbor’s pool or flash mob the dog bowl. Continue reading