R.I.P little hive…
I’ve had several people ask me how the hives came through the cold snap. Thank you for your interest! I have been, anxiously, waiting for a warm day to find out what happened. Yesterday, it got to about 50 degrees and I saw honeybees flying from only one hive. We fed this hive with a candyboard going into winter because they would not have had enough food to get them through. I saw nothing happening at the other three hives. With each walk back to the hives, I grew more concerned. After much worrying at the situation, I decided to go in.
The first hive I opened was a small one and it still had a near full medium box of honey on top. Not one honeybee was alive inside. This hive went into the winter with only about 4 frames of bees but plenty of honey. In the fall, this was a healthy hive. It came from a small swarm we caught and they were really great with bringing in food. Their population, however, was not sufficient to keep the cluster warm; especially, in the severe weather. We are, endlessly, learning from our mistakes. Next time, we will consider several options:
Put the small hive in a nuc and on top of a strong hive which will help keep them warm.
Remove the queen and combine with another hive.
Add frames of bees to the small hive from stronger hives before they head into winter.
I moved on to the next quiet hive with a bad feeling…but, Yahoo! Quite alive, these were! They went into winter with one medium full of honey plus another medium about 1/2 full. I saw bees working on the frames of the top medium (the one that was only 1/2 full of honey.) It was possible that they were getting low on food stores so I put the full honey box from the dead hive on top to supplement. I wouldn’t have done this if I suspected that the little hive had died from disease.
I had a bit of hope building as I went to the last quiet hive. I was very relieved to find that they, also, were quite lively. I tipped their honey box to get a sense of weight. I’m not very experienced with this but I’m guessing that there was not more than 10-15 pounds left. I will add a candy board come the next warm day. We had a hive starve last year. I hope to not repeat that mistake.
Lastly, I peeked in at the hive that we had fed and that I saw flying. There were many bees working the candy board. They had eaten at least 2/3rds of what I put in. I will supplement their candy since it seems to be keeping them strong.
In all of the hives, I noted no condensation problems. I am feeling good about the supplemental feeding technique we used. I followed instructions from Beverly Bees.
By the time I finished; the three hives were flying and, I suspect, were not too happy. When I opened up the hives, I got a clear smell of banana which is from their alarm pheromone. I learned that from our PA state inspector, Austin Martin. I took a couple of quick, and lousy shots with my camera (after having already removed my beesuit) and let them bee.
R.I.P little swarm hive. You gave it a good go.