Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Last week, temps were in the 70's perfect for inspecting. Unfortunately, I was in Florida all week, so my first inspection of the season waited until today.

Before I left, I was seeing activity outside 7/8 hives. Then yesterday, which was a beautiful 85 F, there was much less activity than I would have expected. The magnolias are in full bloom, and even some dandelions are starting to pop out. But the bees. Where were all the bees? Concerned, I decided it was time for a hive inspection.

Celestia, Elsa, and Persephone were all doing extremely well (Note: Elsa & Persehone are my double-walled hives). They had brood on about half of their bars (7 for the nuc and 14-15 for the full-sized hives) and were making drone brood. The dandelions are just starting to open, so I'll go in next week and remove their leftover stores.

Bubblegum, one of the nucs, was doing fine with brood on about 4-5 bars (including some drone brood), but given the amount of activity I'd seen a couple weeks ago, I had sort of expected more.

Peach, another nuc, had a few bars of brood, but since I wasn't really expecting her to pull through, that was a good surprise. Elsa donated a bar of brood to help boost that nuc.

There wasn't any activity surrounding Buttercup, and in fact, I expected to find a dead-out. However, when I got to the front, she had 2 bars of eggs/larvae and a really tiny queen. Really tiny. Where and when did the bees make that queen? Last fall maybe? I should probably requeen/combine that hive, but I'm kind of curious to see what's going to happen.

Austeja, as expected, was a dead-out. There was evidence of dried out eggs and larvae, so it must have happened some time this spring. My bees usually don't start rearing brood until the swamp cabbage starts blooming, so my guess is that she died out sometime during March. 

You can see the Austeja's dead queen in there.

Hippolyte was more of a surprise. There was activity a couple of weeks ago, but when I looked in the hive today, all the bees were gone. There was a lot of old, dark comb, though. My guess is that they absconded. This sort of reinforces my resolve to be more aggressive about pulling old comb this year.

So 5/7 hives remaining isn't bad. In a way, I'm kind of glad to have the space for splits, and those two hives needed some repair work anyway. This is a good opportunity to do that.

What does stink, though, is that I have about 1.5 hives worth of capped syrup that didn't get eaten. One of my hives holds 32 bars -- so that's something like 48(!!!) bars of syrup. Crikey. What am I supposed to do with that??? My freezer is jam packed, but I don't want to waste all that syrup either.  I'm thinking of crushing & straining and storing it in jars. If I end up having to feed again this fall, the syrup should be immediately cappable.

So that's my spring report. Hope your bees survived winter, too!


  1. Glad to hear that the majority of your colonies survived the winter. I'll be interested to hear how you deal with Buttercup. I'm always up for experimenting to see how things go. The fact that a tiny queen survived is pretty good.

    Do you think the syrup will go bad if you store it after crush/strain? I'm wondering if it's worth the effort since there's value in the comb itself. Will the bees ignore it if you just leave it in the hive, now that they can get wild nectar?

    1. I think the syrup should be fine. Like honey, sugar is also a preservative -- it's so sweet that it's hard for bacteria to grow in it. Also, when the bear destroyed my first hive, I crushed/strained the syrup and kept it in jars. It was totally fine the following spring.

      If I leave the syrup comb in the hives, the bees should ignore it since it's mostly capped. But then it's taking up space in my hives which equals less room for brood/honey and earlier swarms. :-(

  2. Hello,

    Just dropping a quick note. Glad the bees are doing well. Your Buttercup (tiny queen) is of great interest to me. My hive that survived is very small based on the number of workers I see. I opened just quickly to check for honey (which I saw) plus Emergency Sugar left from fall. Temps still so up and down. In the mean time I caught a swarm yesterday, which was a lot of fun. My husband who works from home tells me that both hives are surrounded by bees. Fingers crossed that we all have a good spring.

    1. Glad that your colony survived winter. That's half the battle. Even a very small colony can build up quite a lot in springtime.

      Out of curiosity, I'm seeing fewer bees in my hives than I'd like, too. I'm chalking it up to a lack of pollen. Due to weather patterns, they didn't bring in as much last year as they usually do. Are you seeing the same thing where you are?

  3. The weather here is very hit or miss, 50's and mostly rain. I haven't seen any pollen, but my eyes are tanking even with glasses. I believe due to leg position there bring in something, just not the tell tale yellow/orange baskets. I promise to look close this week/weekend and report back.

    1. You should have pollen coming in by now. I was kind of wondering how much pollen you had in the hive over winter. Usually, my bees have 3+ full bars of pollen going into winter. This past year was so bad, though, they didn't have a lot of pollen stores. The result was fewer bees than expected this spring.

  4. Hello again,

    No pollen and no bees sort of.
    My swarm took off, 8 days in they left, amazing to watch. Oh well still had my survivors. Did a full inspection on them, Saturday and then this am, with a trained set of eyes with me. My main hive had honey, fermented sugar, and a little nectar no eggs no brood and old queen cups here and there. Handful of bees just cleaning up.

    The hive I placed the swarm in had roughly 400 bees left, buliding comb so far 3 hand size pieces, but we weren't able to spot a queen. My Trained set of eyes sort of mentor said that I could look again next week that maybe we had missed the queen but he thought she should be laying by now. That I would be wasting $$ to buy a queen, and that he thought they would die out in a few weeks. He has never been for the TBH method, so he asked if I would reconsider and purchase some lang equipment and that what I was doing wasn't saving any bees. He said he was sorry to be so harsh. There are only a handful of TBH keeper about and hour away within a very pro treatment bee club, so I stopped going. This trained set of eyes even thought we didn't believe the same things about bee keeping was holding my hand some. So thank you for listening to my tail of woe. Thank you for this website site and support. I'm going to see what happens I'll give them 10 days and look to see if any pollen comes in. I would love to have them come back like champs but that might just be fanasty on my part. I let you know if the mircle happens.

    1. Hi, Mavis, So sorry to hear that things aren't working out as you hoped.

      So let me see if I got this right. You caught a swarm and installed it, but they took off 8 days later, leaving behind approximately 400 bees. Is that correct? Do you know why they left?

      In this case, your Trained Eyes might seem harsh, but I have to agree with him. I'd probably cut my losses and combine them with a strong colony, too. On their own, they would need a lot of hand-holding, and it really would be a miracle to pull them through. Even if they had a queen, there likely aren't enough bees to care for any brood she might lay. But who knows? If you're determined (or super curious), maybe you're the person to do that.

      In any case, I really do have my fingers crossed for you and your bees. Crazier things have happened. Good luck in whichever course of action you decide on!

  5. Thank you for you gentle words, They are about 5 days, maybe without a queen. I keep debating on what to do. May just let this play out some more, and try with a package or two next year. I'll keep you in the loop if anything exciting happens. Hope your little queen is doing well and I keep enjoying your posts. Cheers


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