Weather in the Pacific Northwest has been very mild lately, just this weekend we had temps in the low 60s and our bees were having some field days. With that much activity, but no local food sources for the bees I thought it would be a good to check on their food reserves.
We always add an Imirie Shim on top of the inner cover and then we fill the extra void with sugar. We had added the reserve food back in November and when we lifted the covers today we noticed that almost the entire sugar reserves were gone. We used up a 25 lbs back of sugar to add more sugar reserves to our hives.
It was good to see that all hives showed activity. We will check back with them in about 4 weeks.
Almost out of sugar reserves:
The additional sugar will not only prevent the bees from starvation, it will also help with moisture management in the hive.
April has started out cold and rainy, but last Friday the sun came out and it was a perfect day for another hive inspection.
With the cold temperatures and rain in the Pacific Northwest, it is critical to keep checking the food supplies. I have not added sugar syrup to the colonies yet, but I keep dry sugar on the inner cover to help them along during this rainy spring.
During the inspection I noticed that one colony is struggeling, the queen was mated in 2017, but she seems off. She is not laying many eggs and I found several cells with two eggs. I have new queens on order and I am just hoping that this colony will make it till the new queens arrive. The benefit of having multiple hives is that you get to help the hive along. I took a frame of capped brood from one of the bigger hives and added it to this week one. I am hoping that this boost of young bees will get them over the next two weeks.
I checked all strong hives for space to avoid early spring swarming, fortunately they all had plenty of empty frames left and I only removed a couple of queen cups. Looks like I will not have to worry about swarming until late April or early May, but by then the new queens will have arrived and I will split all the bigger colonies.
Dandelions are blooming in the ara and the bees are coming back with plenty of yellow pollen.
Looks like spring is slowly arriving in the Pacific Northwest. Last weekend the temperatures made it into the 60s and I was finally able to check on my seven colonies, which all made it through the winter. Looks like my mite, food and moisture management has worked another year!
Even though I had no complete losses, it is normal to find many dead bees inside the hive once you open the boxes for the first time after winter. Especially the bottom boards are filled with dirt and lots of dead bees. During the winter I did clean out the entrance and bottom board through the front entrance, but you can’t get it completely cleaned out.
So if you have never opened a hive after winter, get ready for a big mess. I can tell you, the bees seemed very happy after I went through all the boxes, removed all dead bees and other junk which had accumulated during the past few months.
Only one of the seven hives had a very small cluster. All others are covering at least eight frames. Every colony has a laying queen, I spotted one to two frames with eggs and I also spotted the queen in almost every hive. With the current temperature in the 50s the hives should keep building up for spring.
Most of the hives have several frames of honey left, however, I have kept the dry sugar on the hive to supplement their resources for a few more weeks.
My Nuc boxes are ready, queens are on order and if all goes well, I will do my splits during the first or second weekend in April.
Send me an email if you are local and interested in one of the Nucs.