I had been feeling rather starved of bees. Usually, by this time, I’ve done a short hive inspection or two, but with this extended cold period, I’ve not had a chance to work the bees. Until Monday.
My friend K picked up her two bee packages in the morning and I met her at her home to help with the hiving. It was pretty cold, around 45F, not a temperature the bees would enjoy, though they’ll break cluster for short flights around 50F. These bees were already stressed: they had arrived the evening before from balmy Georgia, had been cooped up in their box for three days. For this reason we set up her hives in K’s garage, and after the hiving she closed the door to keep the bees warm. When the temperatures rose two days later she moved them to their permanent spot. What a pleasure it was to work with the bees again, and K was thrilled – though she got stung twice.
Today I had the opportunity – good weather, a break in my day – to check up on my own three hives. One (hive 3) I already knew to be dead: flies don’t crawl in and out of a beehive unpunished. It was confirmed. Unfortunately also hive 1, my original one, has expired. The weird things is: either had at most a hundred bee corpses in them. Usually, with starvation, the bees are piled on the bottom board or stuck inside the cells. Not so here. All were gone.
Hive 2, the one which gave me 60 lbs of honey last year, is going strong. Its bees were robbing the honey from the two dead ones. I didn’t have a chance to do a thorough inspection, but will at the earliest opportunity. I can feed it the unrobbed honey frames from the other two.
I” split that colony if it continues strong, and I ordered one bee package, to be picked up on 22 April, with a marked queen. Soon there will be three again.