I got into the beehives yesterday or, more accurately, beehive. Last fall the apiary lost two hives due to robbing (wasps stealing honey and brood. Three colonies went into the winter. The weakest colony died in December and the next weakest hung on till February. Luckily the strongest colony did last through the winter.
Good Spring Activity
The spring is when hives build up their populations and start foraging for pollen and nectar to feed their brood. This hive has had good activity and lots of field bees out on warm days. This hive doesn’t have to worry about food, as it has dozens of frames of honey brought in from the dead hives.
On entering the hive, I found three and a half frames of brood and plenty of pollen. As you can see in the picture, the queen has been laying strong for at least two or three weeks as much of the brood was capped and in the final stages of gestation. In about a week, when much of the capped brood hatches, this hive will be “exploding” with new bees. This is exactly what bees should be doing in this time of year.
In order to spur them to put on more brood, I added two empty frames of drawn out comb in between the three frames of brood. This encourages the queen to lay heavily in the new space. I also added a gallon of sugar syrup (1:1) to help them hydrate an encourage more brood laying. They are fed with a big jar with holes poked in the lid. It is inverted over two wooden blocks as spacers and the bees can crawl underneath and drink out of the holes. I’ll replace this sugar water until they stop taking it.
Expanding the Apiary
This month I also got an email from a couple in Evansville. They said they had a bee colony living in a tree on their yard and it was sending lots of scouts into their house. So I built a nuc (small hive) and planned to perform a “trap out” where I give the bees a new place to live attached to the front of their existing hive and over time would draw them out of their old home. Unfortunately, this colony didn’t survive the winter, but left behind a really great cavity with comb and debris to look at.