Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Checked My Hive

It seems like it has been forever since I was able to go check on my bees. I wanted to ensure that they were doing ok but every week seemed to bring in bad weather. It would either snow, rain or be well below 50 degrees. I was able to quickly work my hive 3 weeks ago but that was just to throw on some fondant and add corn syrup to my hive top feeder. This past weekend was the first decent weekend that I had a full day of sunshine.

As I got to my hive, I saw that my girls were out and about, bringing in pollen. That was a great sign. What wasn't so great was seeing twenty or thirty bees dead on the ground in front of my hive. Assuming that it was disease or starvation (again, it has been 3 weeks since I last checked my hive) I began to get worried about what I would find.
Bringing in Pollen
Dead Bees in Front of Hive
The corn syrup in my hive top feeder was mostly crystalized but there were a lot of bees still feeding from it. Using my hive top, I started scrapping it out but found that it was still soft and moist so I sat it to the side for the time being. I continued checking my hive bodies and supers. There were a lot of bees between the frames and when checking my frames, I saw all stages of the brood process. I did not find my queen but I knew everything was good, having seen eggs and larva.

When I got down to my bottom brood chamber, it was completely empty. No bees, brood or honey stores. The bees must have moved up over winter. I took off the bottom brood chamber so that I could move it to the top and give my girls more room to move up if need be. As I took off the hive body, I noticed a few bees were dead on the bottom board. It all came together now with the dead bees laying at the front of my hive. Some of my girls had died over winter and the colony was cleaning them out.

All is good in the hive. My bees were looking good, I added more fondant, reversed my brood chambers and removed my hive top feeder.

I am ready for spring to come!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Checking Over the Winter

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful. I went out to my hive to see how it was doing and could see some activity out front. Temperatures got up into the high 60’s ( Don't check unless it is above 55 degrees) and even though it was cloudy, my bees were out foraging for whatever they could find and going on cleansing flights. I’ve learnt that seeing bees at the entrance doesn’t mean that your colony is still there (a friendly beekeeper thought differently and found out her hive was being robbed). I put my ear up to my hive and could hear a lot of buzzing inside. It was a great sound to hear.
My Hive

Currently, my hive has three supers on it. Bottom is based as the brood chamber where the cluster should be. The top two were mostly filled with honey frames at the beginning of winter (early November). With the weather being nice, I was able to work my hive and check my bees. I did not know what the food stores would be like for my bees so I brought fondant and corn syrup with me (always pays to be prepared).
Bees at Entrance
Bees on Inner Cover

My main concern with checking my hive was to ensure they had enough stored honey to last them a couple more months. When I took off my inner cover I found a lot of bees at the top of my hive. I was happy to see my girls doing well but I knew that there wasn’t much in the food stores. There was no corn syrup left in the hive top feeder...bummer… and only the center two frames of my top honey super had any honey left on them. My girls had broken cluster and were needing food bad.

Hive Top Feeder

I worked my way down to the bottom brood chamber. I flattened out my fondant and placed it on the frames right above the cluster. I closed up my hive and added two gallons of corn syrup to my hive top feeder.

I hope my girls are able to store some more food before another cold spell.