Last week, I performed a second check on my beehives – primarily to see how they were doing and to take a closer look at Hive A (the hive that lost its queen and struggled to build honey reserves through the summer). I had concerns because, unlike Hive B, when I did my first check there wasn’t a single bee flying around the entrance. Usually in weather that is 65 degrees or warmer, bees will take cleansing flights and also take the opportunity to do a bit of house cleaning (removing dead bees, waste, etc). While Hive B had a small swarm flitting around its entrance, Hive A was quiet.
So I popped open the hive. To my dismay, the feed patties hadn’t been touched. The wax paper was still in tact and, from what I could see, the feed was still all there. Luckily it was a balmy 74 degrees, so I could risk opening the hive up a bit further to see if there was an actual cluster – or if my girls had perished.
After taking out 3 frames, all still stocked with pollen and honey, I found a small cluster of girls hanging onto one of the frames. After closer inspection, there were about 3 frames (at least) in the upper deep filled with girls. I quickly put the frames back, put the feed patties back on top, and tucked them back in. I believe it is safe to assume that they’ve “made it,” as they have both feed patties and sufficient honey stores. It would seem that, due to their smaller numbers throughout the summer and into the fall, they have a significantly smaller cluster compared to Hive B and so are not yet as active.
Hive B is… a different story. Bees are crowded around the entrance, passing in and out, going about their bee girl business. When I open up their hive, I can immediately tell that they’ve been snacking on the patties (which they probably didn’t need, but that I added as a precaution to help them along). The wax paper is already chewed up and some of the patties have been harvested. One poor bee got stuck in the patty and perished (much to my dismay – I know it’s going to happen, but it still makes me a little sad). I removed her dead body to avoid contamination. A brief glimpse into this hive shows a wealth of honey still left over and plenty bees bustling around.
This was also my first trip where I managed to keep my smoker going from start to finish – usually it peters out by the time I’m done with Hive A.
Overall, I’m looking forward to a very busy and productive season. I’m gearing up to do my varroa tests and start medicating if the counts are high. I’ll need to order a few frames, some extra supers, and look into adjusting the ventilation in my hive (I can see some mold growing on the bottom of the outer cover, indicating a moisture problem). But I’m excited and we’ll see what summer brings!