Though recovering from a cold (my first time ill in over a year: a sure sign that I’ve been overdoing it a little this month), the sun and comfortable temperatures (around freezing) lured me out. I’d been looking at that dead hive (Hive 4) and it nagged at me. So I took the sled out there, dismantled it (two deeps, one super) and sledded it to the house. There I went through frame by frame, shaking out as many dead bees as possible. This hive died of starvation, though there was evidence of some hive beetle pressure as well. Nothing is as disheartening to a beekeeper as seeing this:
A carpet of thousands of starved, cold-killed bees on the bottom board. And this:
That’s half a frame of capped honey right there. The small dark cluster of dead bees, burrowed deeply down in their cells, is where they hung on till the cluster was too small to stay warm and survive. The honey was right next door! This super was half full of honey still, but the bees didn’t have a break in the cold to move over to get to it. But fortunately there was no sign of disease or fungus: all the frames were clear and clean.
There was a lot of capped and uncapped honey in there – the mix makes it tricky to extract. The uncapped honey at least has started to crystallize:
As this can’t be extracted, I’ll feed it to the surviving hives. I stashed all these boxes and frames on the porch, making sure to put a tight lid on them so no mice can get in. I had a devil of a time cleaning up the mess. They ruined quite a bit of wax but the worst was the droppings all over the place!