Unfortunately, when I got there I discovered that of my three hives, two of them had died. Now I was suspecting that this may happen…
See, when I got hurt last fall (dislocated knee) it was before I was able to finish getting them what I felt was enough winter feed. So I was pretty much depending on the little I had given them already and what stores they had put away.
So when I walked over to the hives, two of them had piles of dead bees in front and zero activity. The third had plenty of activity. Lots of bees coming in and out the front door, bringing in pretty yellow pollen.
Well, I was suspecting something bad, so I guess it’s better than all three hives being dead.
My son and I started pulling the dead hives apart to see why they died. Sure enough, starvation. The tell tale sign of a deadout caused by starvation is the bees dead with their heads in a cell. That picture up in the corner is what that looks like.
Sorry for the photo quality … my camera was dead and so I had to use my phone. In any case, the two hives that died are the one that swarmed and the swarm that came from it, which I had recaptured. So they were both already weak hives.
I pulled out two boxes worth of medium frames that were fully drawn and put em on top of the live hive for safe keeping for now. I don’t think there’s enough population right now to do much, but you never know.
I also left them with some dry sugar just in case. It’s been pretty cold here lately, and if it’s too cold they won’t take syrup. In a couple weeks it should be fine for them to take feed and we’ll go from there.
I’ll also give them some pollen patties next time I’m out there to help kickstart the brood rearing. I’ll also optimize the brood chamber with fully drawn comb that should give them a nice head start for this year.
A sad picture, but this is what the bottom board of one hive looked like. Thousands of dead bees piled 3/4 inch high.