This Years First Inspection

I knew I was going to be in my aunts neighborhood on Saturday so I made up enough fondant to feed both colonies. Technically I should be feeding them sugar water at this point of the year, but because I don’t have any way to be doing that, fondant will have to do. I opened the colony that overwintered first because they had such a small population last time. In all honesty I don’t know how they’ve made it so long. There are really only a few hundred bees left. The combs are glued to the walls and each other, so I can’t easily get in and see if they have brood or not. I’m fairly certain they do because bees were bringing in pollen while I was there, but its hard to say. I reduced the colony down from three boxes to two, and when I separated the boxes I was surprised to find a clump of bees that had died of cold during the winter. The boxes were all devoid of honey, and there were (dead) mites visible on the dead bees. My guess is that the cold got to them and that they didn’t starve, because of the fact that there are still bees living in the colony today.

I checked the package I installed last week next. There were thousands more bees in that colony and they had been happily drawing out new comb on some of the bars that were empty. They occupied both boxes, and pollen was coming in in large quantities. I’m excited! I put the fondant on top of both colonies to make sure that they got enough to eat. Its been raining off and on for the last week, so they haven’t gotten a real chance to go collect nectar.

I got home too late to open my bees, but it was nice out today so I took a look. I was over joyed to find two full frames of developing brood and eggs. They had eaten through all of the capped honey from last years bees, but they were doing their best to replace it. Nectar stores were ripening on the frames next to the brood nest, and copious amounts of pollen were stored near the developing larvae. I didn’t bother feeding these girls because of the boost they had from last years honey. There’s nectar ripening and this next week is supposed to be very warm. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to get some food.

I’m also very happy with the number of bumble bees in the yard this year. We seem to have at least three or four different kinds of them. Some have brown bodies, some have a large orange stripe on their backs. I haven’t seen many of the “traditional” black and yellow bumbles since the last time I saw that queen around, which makes me wonder if they ever found a home. I would really like to build a nest box for them, but I’m not sure where I could put it to keep them protected from the elements and out of the way. I’ll have to look into it more when I find the time!

Oh! I was also really surprised to find a drone in the colony at my house. Someone in the area has a healthy hive if drones are out and about already!

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