Then we got snow and cold and rain. All the maple and magnolia blossoms withered, and I worried that any closed buds might be killed, too. Other local beekeepers were sharing posts about all the peach buds dying in the last Feb cold snap and how all the forage was being frozen by the current one. Everyone was expecting a two-week interruption in pollen and lots of chilled brood. I thought about giving them some combs of pollen I'd saved, but it was too cold to open the hives, and I was going out of town anyway. Mentally, I kicked myself repeatedly for giving the colonies so much room. I feel like I owe the girls some some of confession. "Bees, forgive me for I have been careless and negligent. It's been 13 days since my last inspection."
|This is exactly how I feel right now.|
Anyway, when I came back from New Hampshire, the magnolias were in bloom again. They weren't loaded with flowers, but at least the snow hadn't killed all the buds. Purple deadnettle and creeping Charlie (or maybe it's henbit, I have trouble remembering which is which) were turning my lawn purple.
|Creeping Charlie (I think)|
Before beginning today's inspection, I observed lots of bees coming and going at the entrance with plenty of pollen. Drones were flying about, too, it seems my incompetence had not killed them.
During the last inspection, Austeja had a good brood pattern, but just didn't have a lot of brood overall. The two capped bars she got from Hippolyte have made an enormous difference. She was positively bustling today. The donated bars from Hippolyte even had capped brood and larvae in them, which means all the capped brood emerged, and a new round of brood is being raised.
|Weird puddles of water on bars. Don't know where this moisture is from.|
Looks like some more renovation is in my future.
Peach, Elsa, Hippolyte
During the last inspection, these colonies were the strongest, so in addition to empty bars on either end of the nest, I'd also inserted some empties directly in the brood nest, all of which were being drawn out and filled with brood.
Elsa had three queen cups. I don't think she's close to swarming yet, but it looks like she's warming up. In addition to opening the brood nest some more, I also donated a bar of brood from her to Buttercup.
|Empty queen cups from Elsa|
|Hard to see in this photo, but there is a teeny-weeny acorn cap incorporated into this comb.|
|First mite I've seen this season|
|Almost didn't see Elsa's queen because she was hiding out under a pile of bees.|
She kept running around, so this is the best picture I could get.
Peach looks amazing. This one will get split soon, too, I think.
Buttercup & Persephone
Both of these colonies are doing so-so. Although everything is in order, they aren't exhibiting the same sort of growth as the other colonies. Persephone (nee Bubblegum) is a surprise because she was incredibly productive last year. Figuring that what worked for Austeja should work for them, they each got a bar of brood.
Overall, I didn't see as much capped brood in any of the hives as I would have expected. I don't know if this is because they got a lot of chilled brood and cleaned house, or if it's because they're just keeping the brakes on until spring is truly here, or if it's something to do with the queens. In any case, I'm just glad they're all still alive.