Honeybees Into Spring
I checked on the bees today! I can’t say how happy I am that they’ve made it through to spring! I overwintered them without taking any honey and I used mite treatments last year and it seems to have made a difference! Also, quick prelude of the hive arrangment just for clarity’s sake. The hive is currently comprised of one white deep box, one green deep box, and one white super.
I decided to take no chances last year so I left the entire super on for the winter. I’m glad I did because we had one of the harshest winters I’ve ever seen! It snowed at least 3 times here, and each snow was more than 4 inches. One snow we had was 6 inches deep and everything stayed frozen for a week! Some honey was still capped in the super when I checked on them today, but the majority of it had been used. Surprisingly they were working on capping more! There were also a couple frames of brood showing up here, almost entirely all new eggs, and a swarm cell. I squashed the swarm cell, set this box off to the side and moved into the top deep box. I was delighted to find this box full of bees! Only three frames were not in use, and it was pretty heavy. It was only 55 degrees today but it was so sunny I couldn’t resist checking on the girls. Since it was cooler than it should have been to properly check on them I only pulled the frames from the edges to check food stores. Pollen is everywhere in the hive and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much. Entire frames covered in just pollen. I pulled the empty frames from this box (the green deep) and set it aside as well.
The lowest deep, the white one, was unsurprisingly empty. It was heavier than I expected it to be though so I checked for honey pockets. There were a couple and I moved these to the center of the box. I also removed this box from the floor of the hive, and scraped the dead bees from the winter into my compost bin. The bees weren’t very happy with this, and there was quite a cloud of orange legged gals waiting for me when I came back with the floor. It was a little comical to see so many pretty golden bees flying with bright orange pants on. I quickly replaced the floor, and put the super down first. I want to encourage them to move out of that super as quickly as possible since I’d like to use it for honey later this year. That said, this colony will very likely be split at the end of next month because they’re going to be massive! I couldn’t believe how big the cloud of bees waiting for me was, especially since there were so many frames of brood in the hive (5 at least in the green deep alone). After the super was placed I put the green deep on next. This box was left mostly alone, although I did pull a frame of pollen/honey from each side of the brood cluster (there were two full frames of food on either side) and put it in the white deep. I swapped full frames from green deep with empty ones from the white, taking care not to disrupt the brood nest. Then the white deep went on top of the green, and the full frames of food were placed dead center above the cluster, with half full left overs from the winter.
The weather here has been sporadic and rainy. I only just saw a bumblebee for the first time yesterday, which was a little worrying. My scoulers willow ga native variety) finished blooming a couple of weeks ago but I never saw any bumblebees on it, and they love the pollen it produces. The weather was just too cold a rainy for anyone to be out. Today was beautiful though, and my bees and I were out for most of it. Grape hyacinth are popping up everywhere and my food garden is almost fully planted. And I’m still working on my chicken coop but I get chicks on Friday!