This weekend promised (and delivered) not just dropping temperatures but very high winds. Shielded on the north and east and most of the west by stands of trees and shrubs, our hives were protected on the south only by a bunch of dead sumac which we had at some time in autumn dragged in front of the hives to buffer winds sweeping in across the open yard from that direction. That protection now seemed pitifully inadequate.

FortAnnabelleBorrowing our brother-in-law’s pickup truck (Many thanks, Doug!) we fetched ten bales of marsh grass (better insulating than straw) and stacked them in a horseshoe shape around Annabelle, no longer needing to worry about the late Beatrix. They seemed quite effective at stopping the wind as we tested by standing behind and ducking below the wall.

The wind gusted all night depriving us of sleep and doing a bit of damage about the place. As for Annabelle and her wall they suffered no apparent damage but a quick check with our temperature probe failed to detect that bump in warmth indicating a cluster. Refusing to take this as proof that our work had been in vain, we again borrowed the pickup to fetch ten more bales (the last five marsh grass available and five straw) and extend the sides of the wall.

We shall know whether she lives when the next warmish spell hits although that will not be tonight. Our National Weather Service has predicted the coldest air mass of the season will reach us tonight. Temperatures will drop to between zero and five degrees Fahrenheit after sundown and combined with constant ten to twenty mile per hour winds will achieve wind chill indices of between fifteen to twenty degrees below zero.