On Sunday we did our first hive inspection of the year and were surprised to find one of our two hives was dead. This was a disappointment because both hives had been going strong a few weeks ago when we checked. We had originally planned to check the amount of honey stores left over in the hive and feed them if necessary to get them through the next few weeks as flowers only start to bloom.
The Dead Hive
I’m not sure the cause of this “dead out.” There were no obvious signs of illness: nosema, foulbrood, etc. Some bees had made it up into the top brood box, but the majority had died and fallen into the bottom of the lower deep. They had at least ten frames of honey, so they didn’t starve. Until I do an autopsy of the hive in a few weeks, I won’t know for sure, but my guess is that the queen died and therefore no new queen could be reared in the early spring and the hive died out.
The Live Hive
This hive was going gangbusters. It still has plenty of honey (about 8 deep frames) and was queenright (it has a queen). I saw young larvae; the brood mass was just starting to advance into the upper brood chamber box, so it is right where it should be. We put the dead hive’s honey-filled deep on top of the live hive, just so they’ll keep the honey, frames, and other components cleaner and pest free better than if I put them in the basement.
In a week and a half, we’ll move the hive to our new location. Once our hive is established, we’ll be splitting it into four colonies in early May. Stay tuned!