Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hard Winter


It is the beginning of March 2013 and out of my six hives only two remain.  The oldest of the remaining two (Mab) is queenless and dying off.  The other (The late 2012 swarm) has two and a half frames of brood and three plus frames of bees; a good population for a small Nuc.

Dying Mab to the left and strong Little Miss on the right
The rest of the hives died out during December and January.  Their populations weren't brooding up like they should have been last Fall.  They went into Winter with less vigor than required.  This Winter has been colder and longer than the last handful of Winters.  The bees took a beating.

I got real busy on other projects last July and left the bees to themselves.  They never looked bad and produced a good bit of honey.  However, a late Summer dearth lowered populations and shut down brooding around August.  This wasn't apparent (to the unobservant) 'till critically low populations were noticed in December.

As a stop gap measure the remaining two hives have been supplied with low wattage shop lamps to aid in heating the small clusters.  Mab, who is queenless, can be resurrected if her bees last long enough to make a queen for her.  About a month from now.  Might still lose her anyway.  We'll see.  The moment I see a drone anywhere around here we'll make queens.

Also, since so many hives are gone I have a pile of drawn frames stacked in the basement.  More than i ever intended to have.  Been watching for the Wax moth and have found only a few.  Two frames lost is all.  Freezer is pack with frames.  The rest are staked, post freezing, inside.

Any swarm i catch this year will be immediately put on 20 frames of drawn and mostly filled frames.  Lucky girls.