Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bees are dead

I went to check on the hive today.  It's too cold to open, so I just stick my ear to the side to see if I hear them; no sound today.  I knew the hive was small, and was afraid it wasn't going to survive, and apparently I was right.  I didn't take pictures (because it is awfully cold out there) but from everything I could see, they simply froze.  There wasn't any honey where they were, but judging by the bees that had their heads stuck in the comb, the cluster was only about 2 inches across.  I'm taking the opportunity to cut down a couple of the frames that had been built out too much.  I've mentioned in the posts before that I was trying to do some foundationless frames.  The bees built the adjoining frames thicker into the empty space instead of building comb in the foundationless frame.  So now I can cut those down to their proper thickness.  I'll probably split the comb into two boxes and install two packages in the spring.  Then I'll use the rest of the comb as bait in other boxes to try to trap swarms.  Maybe I'll get lucky.  There's also a woman at work that thinks she has a hive under a water feature in her yard.  I'll try to capture that as well.  Maybe next year will be better.

I still don't know for sure why they were weak in the first place.  Maybe we installed them too late, and they missed the spring flow, or the drought kept the flows from being large enough.  I don't see signs of disease, but I may also just not know what to look for.  The queen was unmarked, so something may have happened to the queen late in the season and stressed the hive that way.  Or there may have been more varroa than I thought.  At least next time I'll have more than one hive, and I can compare them.  I'm thinking about calling the apiary inspector to come out and look it over, but I don't know if I can do that since I haven't actually registered yet.  I don't know what he'll say if he comes out and the hive isn't branded (which is required in Texas).

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