• After seeing your blankets, I went out and added them to my remaining colony today. The temps are brutal here (north-northeast Vermont), and no relief in sight. One colony gone in Dec., one in Jan. We have been having 30 below wind chills on & off for 4 months. I plan on doing something different for next winter- (maybe moving them to the south side of my greenhouse, instead of having them out by my garden) All I can do is hope that the woodchuck (Punxsutawney Phil) is right about an early spring!!!

  • Hi Rusty,

    First winter and I lost one of my hives already. I’m quite sad about it. It was my Italian hive and it had at least 7 full bars of honey left (top bar hive). My carniolians seem to still be alive even though they didn’t have much for food.

    The Italians were clearly clustered around the front when they died en-masse. I’m speculating that it was during the early cold snap that we had this winter. I don’t see signs of foulbrood/anything else and they didn’t go into winter with much varroa to my eye.

    My question is, am I safe harvesting their bars of honey for the carniolians and a couple of new hives this winter?

    Last but not least my wife, friend and I are opening a farm and feed store in Olympia soon and I plan on carrying beekeeping supplies. I was wondering if you had a wish list/recommendation list of items that you wish you could get locally?


    • Billy,

      It’s much harder to overwinter Italians than Carniolans. Carnies maintain smaller clusters, and seem to be able to manage on little feed, and lots of cold. I always recommend them for our type of climate. I think it is perfectly safe—in fact, a very good idea—to feed the stores from your dead-out to the other hives.

      I spend an egregious amount of money at my local feed store which is run by people who irk me no end . . . and they don’t even sell beekeeping supplies. Where is this store going to be? I buy things like chicken feed, scratch, water softener pellets, stove pellets, animal bedding, wood chips, electric fencing, pasture mix, etc. As for bee supplies, hmm. I buy it all online right now, but it would be nice to have a source of standard brood boxes. Let me think on it and get back to you. But here’s one thing that I would definitely buy: 50 lb sacks of sugar. Hard to find. Sometimes Cash ‘n Carry has it, but maybe someone sells “pet grade?” Happy thought. Also, boxes for selling cut comb honey are always hard to find, maybe even honey jars for resale.

      My main compliant about my local feed store? Unfriendly. Superior attitude. Moldy straw. Ripped feed sacks. Ripped pellet sacks. Ripped sacks in general. Actually, I don’t mind if they are ripped and taped, but if they weigh 45 pounds instead of 50 pounds, I would like them to be pro-rated. Is that unreasonable? Also, layer pellets have lately turned into layer powder. I don’t know if this is the fault of the retailer or not—probably not—but they should switch suppliers. Anyway, off topic. Sorry.

      I remember your name but I didn’t know you were local. Interesting.

      Keep in touch.

  • S(tuff) like that doesnt happen where I live (So. Cal) so I don’t worry about blankets. Ants though, hmmm, another subject.

    ANYWAY my question is about suggested bees. You suggest carnies for Billys climate.

    What is your suggestion for Riverside county (north of San Diego, East of LA) type climate. Our planting zone is 8b if that helps.

    Love your site/blog. I just don’t read it all the time… too busy with my bees and stuff. LOL.

  • Can the two breeds you are speaking of be mixed into one hive. I’m sure this is a newbie, “dumb question” but I find your site and knowledge invaluable. I currently have Italians and live in Helena, Montana.

    Thank you,

    • John,

      Sure, a queen mates 15 or 20 times before she starts to lay eggs, and she probably doesn’t bother to ask the drones’ geneology. As I’ve explained in other posts, that is why your worker bees may look very different from each other. See “Why are my bees different colors?

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