Thursday, November 3, 2022

Frosty and Bees

Hi everyone. Happy Thursday to you.

This week's Rain's Art and Dinner Date challenge is Frosty, Here's a collage I made using some leaves from the yard as well as some die cut snowflakes. 

I am linking up to Bleubeard's and Elizabeth's challenge at Art Journal Journey. For November their challenge Food and Drink or Art Fodder or Both.

We had our first hard frost the other morning, and I did manage to get a few frosty photos. 

For my dinner date  this week, I have something different. Last week I needed to do much of my honeybee hive winterizing. It was time since some very frosty nights were predicted. This year we've managed to escape the hard frosts until late October, which is unusual for New Hampshire.

One of the first winter tasks with the bees is to make them some fondant food.

Fondant is a food supplement put into the hive so that when the bees run out of honey, they can have some food to stay alive. They say bees in the Northeast need 80-90 pounds of honey in the hive to survive the winter. My hive has honey in it, but I know it doesn't have 80-90 pounds of it because if it did, I wouldn't be able to lift the boxes, which  I can still do. 

I think my bees just like the fondant though. Since October was fairly mild, my bees were still out buzzing around looking for pollen. Yet when I put in a 5 pound patty of fondant early in  the month, it was gone in less than a week. And that happened twice more.

This time I made 20 pounds of fondant and put 15 pounds into the hive. Unless it gets really cold (which means I shouldn't open the hive because it lets out all the heat generated by the bees inside), I will make another 10 pounds and add another 15 pounds to the hive in another week or so.

I needed my biggest stock pot to make my fondant.

Last year I didn't have a candy thermometer and my fondant came out very crumbly. This year I bought one, and it really helped. I knew when to pull the boiling sugar off of the heat.

And here's the final product cooling. Each pan holds 5 pounds of fondant.

Bees keep the inside of the hive heated to around 95 degrees. In warmer climes the bees don't need a lot of winterizing, but here in New Hampshire we can have long and cold winters. If the hive loses too much heat, the bees have to work extra hard to keep the hive at 95 degrees. It can be too much work for the bees and they can die from the cold. ( I think that is what happened to my bees last winter, even though I winterize them. This year I am going to do some extra winterizing, just in case we have another long and extra cold winter like we did last year.)

And here's my hive. 

I slipped on a bee blanket (the black wrap) to help hold in the heat. Around the bottom hive stand, I bagged some raked leaves and am using those as insulation around the base. I could use a few more bags of leaves, which I will add once I finish my raking.

The yellow you see below the top is an insulated box. It helps to keep the heat the bees create from going out of the top. 

My husband (the engineer) has been coming up with a windbreak solution. We still haven't put it up, but that is on the list to complete in the very near future. 

If the weather goes as it normally does, I'll have one more visit into the hive and then, they sit for the winter .

OK, that's it for me today. Thanks for getting this far, and I hope your week ends well.




David M. Gascoigne, said...

Bee- keeping is not to be taken lightly, Erika. Kudos to you for taking such good care of your hives. Hugs - David

CJ Kennedy said...

Fascinating read. Temps are predicted to get up to 70 this weekend. The bees will need to open their windows 😉 Hope all is well with your mom

Iris Flavia said...

Frost already?! Brrr. And there is such thing as a candy thermometer? I learn new stuff everywhere - food for bees, now that is really interesting!
I wonder where the "city-bees" have their hives and if they get taken care of.
No idea if I mentioned... my teamleader had to give his hive away as neighbors complained. Reckon they still want honey and fruit, though (#stupidpeople).
So, yay to you, hugs!

Jeanie said...

I'm glad to hear about the bees. It's been awhile. The fondant is fascinating -- obviously they are serious fans! Love the frosty leaves although I don't much like what that means!

Angie's Recipes said...

my..the beekeeping is such a hard work!

Valerie-Jael said...

Your frosty journal page is beautiful, as are the lovely, frosty photos. It was fascinating to read about your winter prep for the hives, and the fondant you cooked. I hope your bees will all get through the winter this year, you treaat them so well! Hugs, Valerie

Christine said...

We both thought of frosty leaves! Interesting bee fondant.

Aimeslee Winans said...

Your page is deliciously organic, Erika. Wow, frost - we've only gotten down to upper 50's so far, lol. Hope your bees make it this year, you are giving the old college try for sure, xoxo

Lowcarb team member said...

What a great post, lovely art and photographs ... but it was so good to read more about looking after the bees, well done you :)

All the best Jan

Neet said...

I had no idea that bee keeping was such a lot of work. Wow, cooking for the bees! It is fascinating reading what you have to do to keep them alive during the winter months.
I did enjoy the frosty photos you have taken, at the moment we are having very mild weather and it is confusing the flowers in the garden - I noticed a poppy is flowering today, I wonder what it will develop into as at the moment it is just an open bud.
Absolutely love your frosty collage, what a beautiful picture this makes with the leaves against the print and the odd snowflake dotted here and there.
Hugs Neet xx
ps the snowflakes are gorgeous ones.

carol l mckenna said...

Absolutely gorgeous mixed media collage and so creative! Xo

Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days ~
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

nwilliams6 said...

Love the pictures of icy leaves! Love your art work too - great way to channel the frosty leaves and you did it my favorite neutral colors.

Amazing bee informaiton too, Erika. Wow. I had no idea about all this. You are a great bee mother!


Mae Travels said...

In a sense, you cook refined sugar and feed it to the bees and they make it into honey. Interesting1

best... mae at

Gillena Cox said...

Interesting about the fondant
Happy Friday Erika


Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I was sure I had left a comment, but obviously I only THOUGHT I had. Your journal page is amazing. The texture is wonderful and I just want to run my hand all over it. Thanks for sharing this at Art Journal Journey using Bleubeard's and my theme.

I guess your husband isn't the only one who likes your cooking. Seems the bees do, too. If you have a shredder, you can save the shreddings as insulation, too.

Your frosty photos are wonderful. We've already had two hard freezes, but I didn't brave it out to capture the beauty like you did.

Carola Bartz said...

First, I really like your page. Second, I was impressed with all the winterizing for the bee hives. I know next to nothing about bee-keeping, only that it involves quite some work as your post just confirmed. Your bees have found an excellent keeper, if I may say so. It seems you do everything to get them through the winter, and I hope it will work out.

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oh wow! I love this page - using that text with the leaves looks amazing! Great page for AJJ. Your frosty photos look cold but oh so pretty! Your bees should be happy over Winter, they look as though they will be very cosy! Hugs, Chrisx

craftytrog said...

A beautiful Autumn page Erika! Looks like the bees will be very cosy this Winter.

NatureFootstep said...

you got frost already? We seem to be far from that. Temperture is still on the warm side.

Keeping the hive warm?? Strange, never seen of heard of that. From what I hae seen hives are protected for rats and other animals, and closed but not insulated as you show on the images. Strange!

Divers and Sundry said...

We haven't had a frost yet... I'm excited to see the bee update. It's fascinating to hear and see what this continuing process involves.

Rain said...

I LOVE that you have bees and that you take such good care of them!! ♥♥ Your frosty photos are lovely!