Monday, February 9, 2009

Carniolans Ordered

I ordered two packages of Carniolans yesterday from Nature's Nectar in Stillwater Minnesota.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bee Glad... Is Dead

Today was our warmest day in 2009 (upper 40s) so I went out to see if my suspicions were correct about at least one of the hives. I opened up Bee Glad..., separated the boxes, and, yes, BeeGlad... is dead. I didn't look all that closely or take out any frames but my initial diagnosis is starvation with plenty of honey above.

Both the top and middle boxes were heavy with honey (and possibly too much), so that the winter cluster in the bottom box had no empty cell area on which to move up to the top boxes. The dead cluster was still in the bottom box. With the freezing cold we've had, the cluster wouldn't have been able to move up much anyway. If, as beeworks.com mentions, the two top boxes had been clogged in fall, the queen might not have had enough room to lay eggs to replace the worn-out and dying summer bees. This would've left fewer bees to keep the cluster warm.

No matter which scenario, I must, in the future, pay more attention to leaving the middle frames in both top boxes relatively free or pollen and honey. When I had closed Bee Glad... in mid-October, I had left, what I thought, was a clear enough pathway up into the top boxes. However, two things happened: 1) I continued to feed the hive sugar syrup with Fumagilin-B which the hive consumed greedily, and 2) there was a stretch of warm weather at the end of the month in which the bees scavenged at the local Kwik Trip for sweets. The bees may have stored more honey right in the spaces I had left empty.

I am not very happy with myself right now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Winter Bees Revisited

I mentioned two posts ago about the possible dying of my two hives. I can't be really sure yet either way. It is still too cold to open the hives. This possibility did get me to think, however, about some possible reasons for the hives dying out. As I looked at the locations of each hive I've noticed that, because of the sun's angle in the winter, and the various obstructions (e.g. fence, houses, shubbery) around the hive that these hives do not get much sun on winter days. Perhaps, the hives need to be moved this spring to take advantage of the occasional sunny days they will receive in the winter.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carniolan Packages

Looking into to purchasing two packages of Carniolans for the spring. Even if my two hives do make it this winter, it would be nice adding some bees that winter well to the local gene pool.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Hope Not...

...but it looks like both my hives are dead.

We've had some brutal temperatures this January in Minnesota. However, yesterday was in the 'thirties. I went out to Beelandia to check out both Metpropolis and Bee Glad..., hoping to see or hear some signs of life. Without daring to open either hive, I observed neither.

If both are dead like I suspect, the next step is to figure out the possible causes and go on with new packages this spring. I am quite sure that I left both hives with enough to eat, but with the cold we have been having, starvation is still very possible. If the cluster was positioned in such a way that food was not directly accessible and the cluster could not move for a few days because of the sub zero temperatures we were having, the cluster could've still starved even with plenty of stores left.

Also, I wonder what effect those high mite counts might've have had on the colonies at the end of August. I treated each with Thymol when I observed the counts but was this simply trying to close the door after the horse was gone?

I must also ask myself about the quality of foraging that exists in the area I keep the hives, especially with a golf course, and all its pesticides and herbicides, three blocks away. Am I exposing the bees to too many stresses in this small city environment?

Lastly, I need to honestly examine my own apicultural abilities. I have tried to learn as much I can but was it enough and applied correctly.