It has been a long drawn out winter and even when we thought it was over. along came a surprise in the form of last big snow fall or at least snow drift!
Even just getting to one of my out apiaries was not so easy and these photo’s are from a week after the snow first arrived!
Obviously at the height of the snow drifts I can only imagine that most of my hives in this apiary were in fact buried.
Jumping ahead a few weeks we have seen the temperature finally rise and the bees start to become more active. I have still been maintaining my weekly checks to ensure that the hives had some Neopol left as emergency food and that they are intact and upright with the strong winds we have had the last couple of weeks.
On one inspection I was pleased to observe how busy one hive was until I realised that the hive in question was a ‘deadout’ that had dwindled and I had turned the entrance block round on a previous visit to seal the hive! It seems the windy weather had blown the entrance block out and the nearby hives had found the remaining stores in the hive and were busy robbing it! I had to replace the entrance block and secure it and then shake all of the robbers from the frames before sealing the hive once again!
Needless to say that it caused confusion for a while afterwards whilst all the robbers tried to get back in. The main concern would have been if the original cause of the colonys demise had been disease related, however I am pretty sure that they just lost critical mass, probably due to the Queen not laying any eggs. So I am fairly confident that the robbing episode, although not good, has caused no problems to the other hives. It would have been better to remove the hive sooner however I am not able to gain vehicle access to this site at the moment so it has to wait until I can.
The weekend just gone saw me attend the 2013 Yorkshire Beekeepers Association Annual Conference at York College on the Saturday, more about this in another post!
On the Sunday I managed to inspect, for the 1st time this year, some of my hives.
The remaining hive in my garden apiary is relatively weak. The Queen is still present and marked with last years colour (Yellow) and there are still enough bees but she must have stopped laying again, probably due to the weather and lack of forage. There is still some sealed brood and hopefully when that hatches it will boost the foragers and enable the queen to start laying eggs again.
In the one field apiary I checked all five remaining hives were looking strong with plenty of bees and between 4-5 frames of brood is all stages (eggs, larvae and sealed). Most of the hives also have enough stores left and even seemed to have collected fresh nectar so I removed any remaining Neopol from these hives.
As the weather wasn’t perfect the inspections were kept relatively short and to the point so I didn’t search for the queens and the ones that I did spot were still marked from 2011/12.
Now I just hope the weather keeps on improving and I can get round to checking the hives in my other out (field) apiary!