Whew! Internet connection problems almost made it so that I would NOT BEE today!! Sorry so late with the posting. The bugs are all worked out. Now on to the REAL bugs!.....Bees, that is
Yesterday's temperate weather gave Hubbs and I a chance to crack open the hives and take a good look. We spent our time in our lower of two bee yards. This yard houses last year's new hives.
As I had written a couple of weeks ago, my suspicions that one of my hives had died was correct. It seems that the one hive with no activity must have starved to death over the winter. I had felt that each of the hives were well-filled with honey, but this hive must have depleted its supply before I began supplementing with sugar water. I feel extremely sad about this. I will order another nuc (nuclear colony) to restart this hive later this spring.
The other hives, happily, are vigorous and filled with lots of brood and lots of working bees
Yesterday we added more sugar water to these hives
The bees will use the pollen patties to feed the brood now when there is very scant pollen out there. And the sugar water will take the place of nectar until the trees are finally in full bloom.
Last summer I tried using queen excluders to keep the queen from entering the honey supers. What I found out is that these bees do not like the excluder, and it kept the workers out of the supers also. This kept them from building up large reserves of honey. I had thought that they had enough in their lower boxes, but, unfortunately it seems that one hive was a bit short. We harvested nothing from these hives last summer...and let them keep what they had made. Hopefully, this summer they will get a jump start on honey production and make enough to share with us, also.
Beekeeping is definitely a learning experience and not an exact science. It is always good to have others to compare ideas and experiences with. But each beekeeper finds what works for him or her....I am still finding these things out for myself.