Spring has sprung! We got lucky here in Boise, Idaho this past week with a few sunny days in the 60s – perfect for the first inspection of the spring. I was happy to find that two of my three hives are alive and well! Those odds are pretty good.
1. The first one I checked is thriving and had eaten about ½ of the candy board I placed inside the inner cover back in January. I found multiple frames with eggs on them which tells me my queen is doing her job. This hive is strong and has the potential to really thrive this year. I fed them some sugar syrup and moved to the next hive.
2. The next hive is also thriving but is more aggressive than I’m willing to deal with. I had about 40 bees fly right to my veil covering my face the second I lifted the top cover. This is not standard behavior! I managed to pull one frame out and found brood, but quickly decided that continuing to inspect simply wasn’t worth it. I closed up this hive without even feeding it syrup. They are just too darn mean! What’s causing this? A gene from the queen. Replacing her is the solution if only I had the patience (and guts) to find her and remove her.
3. Unfortunately, my last hive died. So I did a necropsy on the hive (like an autopsy but performed on an animal). I didn’t find bees head first into cells. This would indicate that they starved. Plus, there was an entire box of honey remaining. I don’t believe they froze because there was no cluster remaining. In fact, there were few bees to be found except on the bottom board. I don’t believe it was due to a high Varroa mite level because this hive had a very low mite count when I checked in August (0%) and September (1%). However, my notes from fall inspections mentioned some odd behavior of the queen – lots of drones in September which is an odd time for a queen to lay lots of male bees. Therefore my necropsy indicates that the queen likely failed, causing the hive to slowly diminish.
Bummer deal, but it happens and can sometimes be unavoidable. And I feel optimistic with two hives remaining that I can split to create more if needed. Although one is mean and nasty… more on that soon!
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!