Sunday, March 15
I know it's been a while since I've updated, but as I've been telling people, my concern for this hive's overwintering has been so great that I can't even think about it for any great length of time, let alone talk or write about it.
However! Today was a good day at the hive. I haven't had a chance to open it and check the food supply/hive population in there, though I need to. It's been warmer, but on the afternoons when I have been free, it hasn't been warm enough for me to feel safe about cracking it open.
I sat to the side of the hive, watching tons of ants crawling around in the grass below and up onto the hive. I want to check and make sure that they are not a great threat to the bees. I poked through the grass below the hive entrance and noticed a pretty substantial mass of dead bees. From the varying stages of decay I felt certain that they were just the visible product of winter cleaning - a few bees tossed out one day, a few the next.... as opposed to a big wave of bee death.
Slowly, the bees came out of the hive to take cleansing flights. They were leaving from the top entrance, which supports the fact that bees always move upwards through the hive. Specifically, they will move upwards to consume their food, to lay their eggs, etc., starting in the lower chambers and moving towards the top as they need to. I am presuming that the bottom box is cleaned out of honey stores and that they are on the last bits. I have read that if you are concerned about the level of food in the hive, that you can lay a sheet of cake fondant (maliable, dough-like cake icing) across the frames for the bees to eat.
In other news, I ran into a friend of mine from high school, Jess, who I knew kept bees of her own a few miles away from mine. It was great to have a sounding board - especially someone who I have always respected. The things she said came right from my own brain, especially when she proclaimed, "I saw them bringing in pollen today!!" (I had marveled at that earlier in the afternoon, trying to imagine where that little bee had found the pale white pollen that filled her packets as she returned to the hive.)
Things seem good for this hive - I hope to have a better idea before the end of the week...!
Posted by Jacqui on Sunday, March 15, 2009