Hives hiding in deep snowThanks to a meandering northern polar vortex we have had a few days of atypically brutal winter cold. January highs in the twenties Fahrenheit are not that unusual here in Southeast Michigan but lows below zero are remarkable, especially double-digits below zero. Even in February, normally our harshest month, we do not expect such cold. And then there was the wind chill. And the relentless snowfall that would accumulate to over a foot in depth and drifting deeper.

It was excellent weather for huddling indoors but rather than face the full depth of the snow once it stopped we were out plowing and shoveling like Sisyphus trying to keep the driveway and walks around the house clear of the constantly falling snow. Starting again as soon as we finished, we made at least three passes over everything before losing Sunday’s daylight. We then spent most of Monday clearing the night’s deposits.

But enough about us. How fares Annabelle? We do not know but fret. The picture shows a crown of snow atop Annabelle peering over the similarly snow-capped wall of straw bales. The bees are, of course, not out in this weather and it is far too cold for us to crack open the hive to look. We have heard of beekeepers pouring warm syrup over a cluster but fear we would do more harm than good attempting such heroic measures.

We last troubled them on a warm day in December when we we hoped to see them engaging in cleansing flights. No such joy. Nor were there any mustard stains evident in the snow. A sharp rap on the hive brought no one to investigate. We were considering whether to crack open the hive for a quick look when we noticed that the top bars were decidedly warmer to the touch in one area, where we expected the cluster to be. Taking what hope from that we could, we left them to their own devices as we do now.