Because we had three days in the 60's with very little wind, I took the opportunity to peek into the top brood box of my four hives. I learned a lot.
First I have lots of capped honey but even more surprising is that there were several frames filled with what looked like shiny nectar. I'm still trying to figure that one out and will write Carolyn Breeze. I know they are not bringing in nectar. So is it water? Do they uncap large areas of honey before they consume it? Based on human logic, I would have thought they uncap what they need, consume it and then uncap more. That's not what I found.
In all four colonies I was able to find the queen. She was on the middle frame in the top box. One medium strength colony had about a four inch patch of young larva, again on the middle frame in the top box. They have to keep that at 95 degrees.
I have one strong hive which was from a swarm last year. It has about eight frames covered with bees most of which are still in the bottom box. Three frames covered in the top box.
One of my four colonies had about 25 bees and the most big, beautiful carniolan queen! Needless to say that colony doesn't have a chance of surviving but I was able to give it to the Webers who have a horizontal hive with LOTS of bees and hasn't had a queen for months. The important point is that had I not checked my hives I wouldn't have found this situation and that queen would be dead. So it really is a good idea to take a quick peek in your hives the next time the weather is suitable. That includes pulling a few frames from the middle of the top box.
Lastly, I had put a thermometer in two of the apimaye hives about a month ago. It was the kind of thermometer that stores the warmest and coldest temperature that has occurred in addition to the current temperature, of course. I put it face down on the top bars of the upper box. On top of it was a sheet of double foiled insulation and a three inch piece of foam. I was so curious how cold it got inside when the night temps were in the mid twenties a few weeks ago. I was shocked to find the low in one of them got down to 36 degrees and 40 in the other. The hive with 40 had more bees. Apimaye hives have an R7 insulation value and it still got that cold. But the bees survived, albeit I would only call them medium strength. I don't know how many dead ones are on the bottom, perhaps having died from the cold. I'll know that in the spring.
I went with Brad Jacob into his nine hives. He has three strong, four medium and two weak. Two of his have the same size patch of brood as my one did BUT one of his had capped brood! We put a half patty of pollen on the strong colonies because they are the only ones that can generate the heat to keep the brood warm. One of his weak colonies had lots of capped honey. So he dumped those bees into another hive and shared the capped honey where it was needed.
I guess the whole point of this hopefully not toooo long discourse is that you can learn a lot from looking at your bees when it's warm enough to do that.
As always, wishing you and your bees well!
We always take a sigh of relief when we see the bees out buzzing this time of year. Even though we think they are okay, it's always nice to see them out and enjoying the good warm weather.
Hang on however, there is a lot of winter still ahead of us.
Checked in on my hives this afternoon. Surprised to see so much outdoor activity. Foragers bringing in orange (camellia?) and tan pollen from trees?
It is 62 degrees in Rockaway Beach today and bees are out everywhere.