frost at a hive entrance
Frost Crystals at Hive Entrance – Jan 3, 2011

Tucked away, under the snow and ice, my bees await for spring to return. They bide their time – consuming the winter store of honey and fondant – all while shivering together in a ball-of-bees; on nice, sunny days, the occasional adventurous girl will come out of the hive and take flight. She will most often make several loops in the air before returning to the comforts of the warmer hive.

But, this is January, and it is Minnesota. From time to time, one of those adventurous girls gets too adventurous. You will find their cold, lifeless, little insect-bodies far from the bee yard; they look like they are sleeping atop the snow.

Consequently, what am I doing with beekeeping, in January, in Minnesota?

Mostly planning for the upcoming season. Planning actually started in November with the working out of an agreement with a landowner north of Duluth; we will be putting out eight new hives this spring on their property. If all goes well this season, their relatives directly east of them may be interested in hosting hives on their property, as well.

assembled hive boxes
Assembled, Langstroth-style Hive Boxes

Each hive will be composed of two large (a.k.a. "deep") hive boxes and three medium honey boxes/supers. With each box holding ten frames, this means one hundred sixty frames total for the deep boxes and two hundred forty for the honey supers. This posed a bit of a logistical problem – if ordered all at once, where would I put everything?

Break-it-up. The logistics issue seems to have been solved by making a series of orders. Since the deeps need to be used first, with honey supers coming later, it made sense to order the deeps and deep frames first.

Much to Melissa’s chagrin, I turned the kitchen into my heated workshop for a couple days. The boxes went together quickly enough; four and one half pounds (2 kg) of Torx deck screws and 8 oz (230 mL) of waterproof wood glue, the boxes where assembled.

The frames went to together with the help of a friend; it was mainly just a series of glue, tap, staple, snap, staple, staple – hundreds of times.

The deep boxes have, also, all been coated with an exterior, water-based, mandarin-colored stain. They look really neat.

What’s left? Ordering the bees; the order form from Nature’s Nectar, LLC arrived this past Friday. Also, some of the items ordered (outer cover, screened bottom boards, etc) were on backorder; I wait their arrival.