Hive Update – Is winter really behind us?

April 7, 2019 – It’s been an unusual winter. After very mild temps (20s and 30s) into January, a polar vortex at the end of January led to a nerve wracking couple of weeks. For my weak nuc which I started in August, that vortex was enough to end their time on earth. My main hive, however, was ticking just fine even after a few additional cold spells.

I was told that March can be a difficult month, as the queen may start laying eggs as early as February, so nurse bees would need to stay over the brood to keep it warm and may thus, starve from lack of honey in the area. I checked their honey reserves and decided to add fondant to the top frames in hopes no one would be without food. That may have helped, but as I check frames in the hive now in early April, there are large portions of frames that still have lots of honey…

Regardless, all was well into mid March, when during my spring break I went out to see if the queen was laying as well as I’d hoped.

After no signs of the queen (in body or brood) in the top box, I was getting nervous heading into the middle box. There I spotted (without my phone) a small, scattered amount of brood on the top of frames. From what I knew, this could be the sign of a laying worker, so I didn’t get too excited. I also didn’t lay eyes on the queen yet.

That led to April 5th while I was boiling my sap. It was in the mid 50s outside, so I decided to go in to see what was going on. I was pleased to see more capped brood, some which emerged, and now in the top box, a few frames of eggs covering the majority of the frames in the middle of the box.

I still haven’t laid eyes on the queen, but seeing that she is clearly there eases my nervousness. I added a third box of empty frames on top in hopes they will draw out some more frames before my new bees come. I also have a pollen patty on the top of both bottom boxes and 1:1 sugar syrup on top.

Now if only we weren’t scheduled to get 8-10 inches of snow on Thursday…

Next up, continue working on the hive components I’ve made. Next time I go in, I may rotate the boxes so there is empty, drawn comb right above the queen so she has more room to lay.

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