One of the things I like about beekeeping is that it makes me sit up and take notice of the great out-of-doors. You know what I mean: The nature thing. Flowers, rain, wind, sun, and—most importantly this week—daylight length.

We just crossed the winter solstice (accompanied by a total lunar eclipse, but I doubt that honeybees paid much attention to that), and thankfully the days are going to start getting longer. The bees do notice that. After a period of laziness (oops, that's called rest), the queen is going to start laying eggs again. She'll start slowly at first, but by the end of January, she'll be filling any empty cells in the brood nest with next season's bees.

There's not much we can do in the hives right now. It's too cold to pull frames. But since we're expecting several days of stormy weather that will keep the bees at home (and they don't have much honey stored against the winter), we can feed them.

We're experimenting with different feeding stations in the hive top feeders we installed a few weeks ago.

This is Aurora. We poured heavy syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water, plus a little Honey-B-Healthy) into a plastic container (we fished the container out of the recycling bin). The coffee stirrers are so the bees can get out of the syrup before they drown.

This is Flora. We used old water bottles, filling them with lavender, then syrup. The bees really like this arrangement. When we first opened the hive, they were quite busy clambering among the lavender flowers and slurping up syrup.

And some shy girls crept up to feast on some spilled sugar nectar.

 Happy Honeyed Holidays to you and all your bees!

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