Beekeepers (or least, this beekeeper) think grand thoughts towards the end of winter. Spring is coming and we think about the wonderful things we will finally do this year. As for myself, I am thinking about raising nucs, producing honey, beekeeping on more of a schedule, and catching swarms. Of course, most of this depends on actually having some bees.
So I was a little concerned on a warm day last week when one of my hives was fairly quiet. The other hives were flying all over the place, but this one only had a bee or two active in the front. I’ve been tricked in the past by an apparently quiet hive doing just fine over the winter, so I wanted to check the hive and see how it was doing.
I was able to do so two days later. I have (had?) two nucs sitting next to each other, with the idea that sharing an inner wall will help keep them both warm. The difference between the two hives was fairly stark.
The hive on the right (from the back) with little activity was indeed dead. No bees at the top and a very small cluster (not visible here) against the inner wall with no food to be found anywhere. On the other side, the top was bursting with bees, and at least one frame had good food stores.
I’m not sure why the dead hive did so poorly. I wonder if the hive lost its queen late in the year given the limited population; or perhaps the bees drifted to the “good” side and the population dwindled. I did not see evidence of mite damage or find a dead queen; I will have to do a postmortem sometime when the weather is a bit warmer.
It is always sad to lose a hive, though it was good to see the one hive doing well. We are expecting some warm weather soon, so we’ll have to check the larger hives on another day.
May you prosper and find honey.