While our spring results are not perfect, we are very happy to have only lost two hives this winter. I thought we went into winter with over 20 hives, but when I updated the records yesterday morning, I found that we have 15 hives. However, that makes the percentage we lost this winter even better — and our best year yet. Even the two we lost probably would have made it through if we hadn’t had that incredibly long cold spell. In fall, we long debated combining them with each other or with other hives as they were not strong, but they also weren’t quite that weak and they had honey. We added candy boards in December and hoped for the best. Neither hive even went into the candy boards. There were actually some resources left in the frames, but the bees died clustered — about 3 cups of bees in each hive. Sixteen degrees is just too cold and we are counting our blessings that the other hives are doing as well as they are.
With temperatures in the mid seventies on Saturday, many bees were out gathering pollen and every hive still had a good number of bees in the hive. We even had to add a super to the English hive and the best other hives have 10 frames of bees. A couple of hives only have three frames, but there was a variety of ages so the queen must be ramping up production. Despite the sunshine and the warm temperature, the intermittent breeze had a chill to it so I didn’t pull any frames. I counted frames of bees and tested the weight of the boxes. It feels like some of the ladies have really been packing sugar into frames! Hubby helped out on the last two hives and pulled some frames without a large number of bees on them and saw lots of wonderful bee bread, pollen, and nectar.
I was impatient (and over confident) in the morning and did a quick check of candy boards before suiting up. Our generally worst tempered hive had no sugar left, so I decided to give them one of the candy boards from a dead-out. The unappreciative little critters stung me right above my top lip, so I spent the rest of the weekend looking like I was trying to do that stupid duck-face thing! Hopefully I’ll abide by “we live and we learn” in the future. I almost look normal again today, which is good because I have to get a new ID made tomorrow.
While I was checking hives, hubby installed some more hive stands in the new location and then he painted all the new wood ware with paint from the reject shelf at Lowe’s. I love the new colors! I know some beekeepers prefer an all-white apiary, but bees orient on color. That’s my excuse for our rainbow hives, and I’m sticking to it. I know for sure that hubby would not pick magenta if he was the only one working the bees, but he does like making me happy! It works out well for both of us as I’d rather have pretty bee hives than jewelry, and you can’t buy a diamond ring for $9.00!
It was so wonderful to spend a weekend at the farm, even with a mouse in the camper! (That was my motivation to get up at 6:00 a.m.) I love waking up to the quiet and a view of pine trees. While we’ll make frequent trips back before then, I’m counting down the days until spring break and a whole week in paradise!