In the last report, we found that the institute bees survived the “polar vortex” -30°F (plus windchill) temperatures but the research hives, which were split heavily and smaller in size, did not. It is now reaching flying temperatures most days (>50°F) and the bees in all four institute hives have been out.
All four institute hives have continued to thrive since the last check up. The strongest hives are in the Bienenstall (bee shed). These hives have 4–5 frames of brood and 8–10 fr. honey as well as pollen and room to expand. These two hives are kept in two or three deep Langstroth boxes each. They had both emptied their bottom boxes and were laying brood in the front of the top box. I moved and consolidated the brood frames down to the lower box, giving them pollen and then empty frames to fill out the box. And then I put the honey right above the brood. I put their candy-board tops back on as they hadn’t finished all the sugar yet.
The long Langstroth hives had gone into the winter weaker and came out with less resources but they are still plenty strong to build up this year. Each had about three frames of brood and 4–5 frames of honey. I supplemented them both with more sugar at this point to be sure they make it until the dandelion flow starts here in the next few weeks. Right now, they seem to be bringing in maple pollen. My favorite part about working the long Langstroth hives is the ease of use. I separated all the brood, honey, and empties into groups (shown in the picture) and then rearranged them, starting with an empty frame, then the brood, pollen, and honey, followed by more empties from left to right in the picture. Easy! No lifting.
Once the brood builds up to 8 fr. we will have to make decisions: do we want to make more bees or more honey? You can read about our process for splitting hives on previous blog posts: part I and part II.
As all four research hives died in the vortex, I did not check them but am looking forward to repopulating them from my strong hives at the institute. Stay tuned for that process.