I opened the hive yesterday, if only because its currently my spring break and I had nothing else to do. The bees have been steadily coming and going like they usually do when its warm enough. Almost deceptively so really, since I expected their numbers to be much larger than they are. Only 4 or 5 frames were occupied, and a couple of frames of honey had been left untouched around the hive. I checked through the upper box first, and found the queen on frame with almost nothing on it (though there were bees cleaning the cells around her). There was only one frame with larvae/eggs on it, and a quarter of those were drones. I squished all the drone cells and moved the frame of honey that had been untouched much closer to the brood nest.
Moving to the lower box, almost every cell had little white globs of pollen in them, with a few patches of cells full of orange pollen. The frames farthest from the brood nest were beginning to mold, and dead bees were lying in between all of the frames. I removed the frames, then chiseled off the old propolis, which was dried and cracking, and brushed all of the dead bees out of the hive.
I switched the boxes to prevent swarming, though I doubt I’ll have to worry about that for months yet. I moved the last honey frames around too, so that two frames sit around the brood nest, and a few above. I’m almost unsure if these girls will make it, simply because so many died off during the winter. There isn’t anything blooming right now. The crocus’ are just finishing blooming, and the buds of the hyacinth are beginning to poke out of the ground. The bees are still flying out and about, as busily as ever, but so far as I know there won’t be a nectar flow for another week or two.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I might open them up in a week to see how they’re doing. I left a few empty frames around the frame with the eggs on it, to allow for easy expansion, but I’m not sure if that might be too much space from the honey frames. I’ll check next week and move things around if necessary.
I figured, given that it’s been a while and that its snowing in the middle of March, I might as well give a short post on the bees. First I feel the need to talk about the fact that it’s snowing like crazy outside right now. It’s the giant blobs of snowflakes that look excellent coming down but don’t stick to the roads. The grass and plants and things are nicely blanketed though, so that’s nice.
Anyway, the bees have been relatively active I suppose. They come out about once a week if the weather’s nice, and they love the crocuses that have popped up all over our yard. I feel bad though, because a few weeks ago, when they first started venturing out of the hive, they were coming out of the gap between the metal roof and the inner cover I’d left to make sure air flow was good (I think part of the problem with my first batch of bees was the lack of airflow). I took the piece of rock I’d put between the inner cover and the metal roof out, but the wood had bowed over the winter so I had to place two bricks on the hive to keep the roof flat.
The first bees to venture out had oriented themselves to the top of the hive, so when they came out again a few days later they had a lot of trouble making it back into the hive. A fair number huddled up under the eve of the roof and died. I felt bad, but I didn’t want the bees to get themselves oriented as a top entrance hive. I just think it would make opening them up a lot harder, since all the returning bees would have no idea where to go and I’d end up with a cloud of bees bigger than usual hovering around me.
I haven’t opened them up yet, simply because they’re so mean I’m not interested in being unable to venture outside for weeks on end. I’ve talked to B, the man I bought bees from originally 3 years ago, and asked him if he had any queens for me to buy. I’d like to change this hive into a much nicer one as quickly as possible.
Anyway, that’s really all I’ve got for now. Until next time!