I’m happy to report that my single hive from the end of 2014 has survived the winter into 2015. Last week the weather was nice enough – above 15°C – that I could open the hive and see how the bees were doing. I’ve posted a few pictures below, and here is a general report on the hive’s health:
My hive is 2 deep boxes with both a bottom and top entrance. This colony was a swarm that I captured last year, which was from a swarm captured the previous year. So this lineage has proven itself over a couple winters. I did not wrap or insulate this hive. It was left for the winter as you see it in the first picture below.
When I approached the hive, I could see a few bees using the bottom entrance, but most were using the top entrance/ventilation that I had put in place last fall. After I opened up the hive, I could see the reason why the top entrance was more popular. The bottom board of this hive was covered with about 2 inches of dead bees (pictured below). The moisture levels in the hive were quite high and there was some mould on the bottom board as well. I scraped off all the dead bees into the forest nearby. I left the top ventilation in place to help control any moisture that was present in the hive.
There were still plenty of bees within the hive, and the top box was still quite heavy with honey. I may swap the boxes in a few weeks if I go back and things are still looking good.
I was quite happy to see that there were a few bees bringing pollen into the hive. This is a great sign of spring and it means that the bees have found flowers and food!
I will be keeping a close eye on this hive for the next few weeks. A couple years ago, excessive moisture in my hives led to chalkbrood, which I didn’t catch early on. I want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen this year. Hopefully this colony will build up its numbers and perhaps I can split it and start a new colony. I will also be on the lookout for swarms around me this spring. I’m aiming to have 3 healthy hives going into winter this year.