Grit Blogs > A Beekeeping Diary

Of Earthquakes and Hurricanes

Corinne Anthony headshotWhat a week it was! It started with an earthquake and ended with a hurricane. Then we were without power for five days. The bees, however, seemed to take it all in stride.

I never expected a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in rural Virginia, but there it was. I was inside the house when the ground rumbled like a huge truck was driving by. Then the chandelier started to sway, and I could hear the glasses in the cupboard clinking. Outside, the bees took no notice.

I was more worried about the predicted wind and rain associated with Hurricane Irene when it roared up the East coast. The master beekeeper who provides guidance at our monthly beekeeping club meetings sent around an advisory by e-mail several days prior to the storm.

At that time the winds were projected to be in excess of 110 kts at times, which was much more severe than we’d had in a long time.  “Winds at that strength can really cause problems with our hives, and it is in our best interest to prepare the hives as well as possible before the onslaught,” he wrote.

He advised us to secure our hives to their stands by using a ratchet strap, or tightly pulled line.  The theory is that if the hive bodies are tightly bound, they stand a better chance of not separating even if they do blow over.  Then he suggested adding extra weight on top of the hives, like heavy concrete pavers and blocks.The lighter the hive, the higher the probability is of it turning over in high winds.

My one hive just sits on a couple of loose concrete blocks, so I was plenty worried. I rummaged down in the basement and found a tie-down strap of some type and tied it roughly around the hive body. Then I placed two concrete blocks on top. It wasn’t the prettiest of set-ups, but I hoped it would be serviceable. Then I waited.

By the next morning it began to drizzle. By afternoon, it became a downpour, the wind started to pick-up and the electricity went off. It was a long night of howling wind.

But by morning Hurricane Irene was gone, and I was relieved to see just a few limbs down on my property. My bees were also spared. I think they were more ticked by the rain that followed off and on the whole following week. The wet weather prevented the forager bees from making their rounds amid the smattering of fall-blooming flowers. 

The autumn nectar flow is much smaller than the spring’s supply. We have goldenrod, wild aster and a wild flowering clematis, but not a lot else in my part of the state. I continue to feed the bees their sugar water and will do so as late as I can before the weather becomes frigid.

Some of you have wondered about the cost of getting into beekeeping. I’ll give you full details in my next posting. But here’s a small preview: Like most hobbies, it’s going to cost you money, not make you money. You do it because you enjoy it.

More in my next posting.