Checking Bees - February 2017

Very warm temperatures for February!  Had 56 degrees F on 2/16/17.  I went out around noon to check to see how the girls held up through the winter.  I had expected the weak hive not to make it.  It was short on food stores, though I had transferred some honey from the two stronger hives and fed them sugar water in the late fall.  None-the-less, there is a strong cluster on the south side of the upper deep, and lots of activity on the warm day.

My other two hives are both strong at this point.  Italians in the east hive are very active, very strong, and a bit aggressive.  I think I would like to try splitting this hive this spring.  I would like to try it without getting a queen, letting them generate their own.  It takes longer that way, but that should not be a problem assuming some decent weather. The four week turn should still give plenty of time for the new hive to build some population and generate some food stores.

I did give the weak West hive a bucket of sugar water, as freezing temps are not expected for the next ten days or so.  And I am pretty sure they will finish that off in that time based on their previous consumption rate.

My insulation scheme seems to have worked out fairly well.  I put the entrance reducer at the bottom at the smallest opening, and then left a gap between the front of the hive all the way up to the top of the second deep by attaching the insulation to the front edge of the bottom board and to the top of the upper deep.  I cut a one inch opening about ten inches up from the bottom board on the leeward side of the hive, providing an entrance to the gap between the insulation and the front of the hive.  This seems to be working quite well based on the cleanly-ness of the hives and the activity around the exit. Will have to check that out more closely in mid-April when the insulation will come off.

I will be back to check at the end of February to see how all is progressing.

Below is a short video I made of the three hives.