Austeja has been a concern ever since she swarmed late last year, going into winter with the least amount of honey. Even though she got some sugar on Thanksgiving, the observation window shows that the sugar is nearly gone.
To be frank, I'd prefer not to open the hives in winter and break all their propolis seals. On the other hand, if they have no food, they're goners anyway. So I've been waiting for a mid-40'ish day to restock her. I figured that they should be clustered up, but it wouldn't be too cold to freeze me or the bees -- a win-win all around. Today (46 deg F according to my weather app) seemed a perfect day to do it.
The last warm day we had, I kicked Bubblegum and Persephone, but got no reaction, leading me to believe they were deadouts, but they might have some honey I could steal for Austeja. Peach was the easiest to open, so I checked her first. However, I got a big surprise! Two bars in, and there were bees! Hooray!
Persephone was up next, and I got another surprise. The bars at the very end were completely empty. Bars closer to the cluster had only a ribbon of capped honey at the top. "Oh, no, they starved!" I thought. But as I kept going through the hive, there was no evidence of starvation. No dead bees buried deep in the cells. In fact, there wasn't a single bee to be seen. There were about 4 bars chockfull of pollen and a few capped bees left behind, but that's it. I've heard of this happening to a few other people up and down the East Coast, but I'm still wondering what the heck happened?
|Some splotchy capped brood that was left behind|
|Bar with honey band|
|Honey band and lots of pollen|
|Pollen up close|
|This is where the cluster should be. No bees at all.|
So no bars of honey to steal for Austeja. Ok, more sugar for her. I popped her open rather casually expecting her to be clustered up, but no! A furious black cloud flew at me, expressing great displeasure. I didn't even bother sugaring the combs properly. Instead, after filling half a bar, I cravenly fled. Since my good intentions were so completely misunderstood, I'm going to try this again another time -- maybe next week when the temps are chillier and I'm properly suited up. Today, all I got for my trouble was a sting to the index finger and a jacket covered in poop.
How are your bees?