Last year I started raising bees. I received my packages at the end of April and hurried to install them into their respective hives in the middle of the cold. Unfortunately the weather was not good, and I had to hurry and dump them in before they froze.
Everything went well into June until I noticed that the queen was not laying eggs in one of my hives. Soon after, I witnessed them starting to create queen cells – a clear indication that the queen had somehow died and now the bees were rushing to replace her. This put them behind in production quite a bit (in terms of drawing the hive frames into comb and filling it with eggs/pollen/nectar/honey.
I frequently fed my bees throughout the summer to help them build as much comb in the hive as possible (so they could in turn use that to store more eggs, pollen, honey, etc). We even planted trees next to the hive (A Kentucky coffee tree and a linden tree for both shade and flowers).
As was to be expected, neither hive generated any extra honey in the first year; usually the bees do not have enough time to create comb for their entire hive, create honey, and then provide a harvest. Going into the winter, I noticed that the hive that originally lost its queen was light in honey, and I’ve been nervous ever since. If they don’t have enough honey stores (usually about 60lbs for Colorado weather), then they’ll starve before spring arrives. To prepare for this, I’ve ordered 15lbs of winter feed, which can be packed in between wax sheets and placed at the top of the hive for them to feed on. Hopefully if they do find themselves with bare cupboards, this will help get them through the cold weather.
I was delighted to find, during my first hive check of the year, that both hives were alive and well, and apppeared to still have honey stores. Nonetheless, I will be feeding Hive A (that lost its queen) to ensure that they are able to pull through.
Here’s to another successful year raising bees and, hopefully, a bountiful harvest in the fall!