Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mud Season '15

Crocus cultivars blooming in a warm spot; most spring bulbs are still under the snow pack.
 The weather is slowly warming up, though spring flowers are probably still a good three weeks to a month behind schedule. The bees have been out and about on quite a few sunny afternoons lately, but they're not finding much of anything to eat beyond the Domino nectar flow, as it were. The overall colony survival rate still looks like about 70%. 

A short pause in the sap flow, with the snow pack freshened up, March 28.
  Around the middle of March, the maple sugaring season really got going in earnest, again about a month late. Over the past two weeks, there has been a pretty reliable daily sap flow, and half a dozen  banner sap days when I've collected a gallon from each tap in the morning before work, then come home to find another gallon with some loss to overflow in the evening. Some of the best production has been during rainy thaws, where chilly but above freezing temps have kept the flow going 24 hours a day for several days straight.

This past week, two taps yielded a bit more than 10 gallons of sap (it's hard to tell exactly how much, since I've been skimming ice off of the sap buckets each morning). This boiled down to a quart of maple syrup, in the typical 40:1 ratio. The syrup is looking cloudy in the photo because of "sugar sand," a mineral precipitate that I will allow to settle and filter out. 

Eden the cat is very particular about not walking on snow, but with recent thaws she has been enjoying a much larger field of operations in the fenced backyard. She had been getting cabin fever, with only a couple of inches of open ground under the eaves where she could run back and forth when it was warm enough to venture outside.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March: Lion to Lamb Transition Underway

2015 hasn't had an overly productive maple sugaring season, but it could get better.
 After a warm December, the winter of 2014-15 turned nasty here in Connecticut. Temperatures during the daylight hours are finally getting consistently above freezing and the Sugar Maples are producing a little sap. The flow has been pretty weak so far, and it's a few weeks late, but it's nice to see after a long period of heavy snow and bitter cold.

The home apiary on a warm March afternoon.
 The bees are also venturing outside of their hives on especially warm afternoons, for the first time in probably two months. The survival rate was not as poor as it could have been, with perhaps about 70% of the colonies looking good. I am uncertain about the fate of some hives in isolated out yards, because they're too snowed in to reach, for now. Spring is only a little over a week away, and the long term forecast is for more or less seasonable temperatures, at least.