Archive | January, 2013

Using a stethoscope to “hear” if your bee hive is alive

18 Jan

If you’re itchy for signs of life over the winter, lord knows you can’t open the hive! But given the right “ear”, you might be able to hear the crunching sounds of life within those four wooden walls.

This week, during Albuquerque’s wicked cold snap, I borrowed a “mechanic’s” stethoscope from a local computer hardware geek and tried to spy on my hive. ZERO. I heard nothing.

The mechanic's stethoscope offered no clues about my bee's survival.

The mechanic’s stethoscope offered no clues about my bee’s survival.

Was it the stethoscope? Was it my bees?

Just when I was about to give up hope, the weather broke and Albuquerque warmed up to 50° which means the girls could get busy if indeed they were alive. Sure enough, about 11 a.m. today, I saw a steady stream of honeybees going about their winter business of pooping, cleaning out dead bees, and possibly even looking for signs of early pollen. Ahhh… beekeeper bliss.

Want to Hear Your Hive?

  • Try a doctor’s stethoscope which amplifies the sounds of bees inside. A mechanic’s stethoscope just didn’t work for me but fellow beeks testify that a doctor’s version will work.
  • Don’t hear anything? Try again at different times in the day. Whatever you do, don’t open the hive until spring!
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Deep Freeze: Will my bees survive?

15 Jan

In a record-breaking winter maneuver, we’ve plunged below zero here in Albuquerque. The ever-present sun masks a cruel truth: It’s wickedly cold outside and most local critters aren’t prepared.

This morning, I knocked on my hive and listened. With an ear to the wood, I thought I might hear the faint crunching of a cluster of bees huddled inside. SILENCE.

My backyard hive in winter One who didn't make it

And so, I must wait, like a mama eagle teaching her fledgling to fly — I supported you well and this, you must survive on your own.

It’s tough love, to be sure, but if Albuquerque is to support honeybees for the long haul, I believe the species must adapt to local conditions without human intervention.

And so I wait. The first warm day above 50 will bring me news of their survival.

UPDATE 1/18/13: The weather has broken and my girls took to the sky today as only critters with cabin fever will do. They’re alive!