End of January update

Well, it has been 21 days since we last checked our hives. Since it is mid-winter 2019 and a nice day, we decided to weigh them today, January 28.

We started in the home yard and found five with nearly ten pounds of weight loss so far this winter. The others either lost six pounds or less or even gained (probably from robbing other hives and/or drifting). A few hives were defensive on one stand, so we used smoke to weigh them.

While most of them were quite active, one was not, so we decided to take a quick look inside. Just barely opening the top we could see that it was either a dead out or abandoned.  Upon inspection, we found less than 100 bees dead on the bottom of the hive, and a few dead on one frame. There was very little uncapped brood, a few frames away from the dead bees.  One frame near the opposite side had not been worked out, but most of the remaining frames were nearly full of stores except where brood had emerged. Two frames of stores were about 75% consumed. The top sugar board had barely been used, just one line of tunneling up into it. In this yard, 14 of 15 hives are still active. 

The nuc hive in the greenhouse appears to have survived the winter, but as it had not been weighed after moving it inside the greenhouse, it is not included in our statistics.  Today we saw bees flying in and out, and they were bringing pollen in, so it looks like it might make it.

In our out yards, 13 of the 14 hives were quite busy. We did not inspect the other hive as the temperature was dropping and the hive was in the shade at this time of the day in winter. It is possible that is why they were not active. And we did not want to expose the bees to the cooling temperature.  One hive had again been harassed by an unidentified animal and had more of the insulation scratched. This hive was very defensive, so we used a smoker to weight he hives in that lot also. The remaining hives in all the yards did not require smoke.

Beginning the season, on average the 30 hives weighed 54.3 pounds on November 18. Now the remaining 28 hives average 48.8 pounds. The hives average 5.5 pounds lost. Individually the weight change ranges from a gain of 8 pounds to a loss of 14 pounds.

Reading about bee care in the winter, Cheryl found that bees do use extra water to thin the food stores. So we plan to put up a second bird bath with rocks for the bees to land on. It is also time to start feeding 1:1 syrup, as our bees are already collecting pollen. The earliest trees make pollen here is late January to mid-February. We are going to open feed the syrup in our home yard, and in the out yard with five hives. To see how we do that, check out our earlier blogs.


The other main activity for February will be picking up our custom built mating nucs/queen castles and painting them. And as always cleaning frames, and sanding and painting other empty boxes. 

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