March 2014 Yard Visit
Often, just before the next spring blizzard:
- hurricane speed up slope winds blow the cold air away
- snow and ice rapidly melt in the valleys
- sunshine skies are clear, bright and blue
- temperatures approach the upper 50’s F
Under these conditions the bees get a brief chance to:
- break their winter cluster
- take a cleansing flight
- gather a little water
- and do a little hive cleaning
Just like the bees, it’s a good time for a beekeeper to get out and visit a beeyard.
It’s still too early and cold to do much in Wyoming. Hives shouldn’t be opened yet. But it’s a great time to:
- right any winter damage
- check entrance activity for life
- heft hives to access feed needs
So, yesterday, I visited my little yard.Things are looking good. The hives:
- were much as I left them in January
- are alive
- are without signs of dysentery, dead bees, predation
- were heavy with feed
Hive weight was definitely below and behind the winter clusters which were located in the center front portion of the top box.
Normally, I overwinter my hives in 3 deep boxes. But for a comparison, 1 hive was overwintered in just 2 deeps. That hive, with its upper entrance, hefted like a vertical mirror image of a typical 2 story hive with a bottom entrance.
So far, it appears to have overwintered just as well or maybe even a little better than a typical 2 story hive with a bottom entrance. And it has wintered as well as those 3 story hives.
With so few hives, it’s not a definitive test. But it’s still interesting.
Today, the expected blizzard arrived. But probably much like the bees, my spirit is revived knowing that today’s blizzard is only a small interruption as the season advances toward spring.
Soon, in just a few weeks, water and even a little pollen can be gathered in ideal locations. And the great cycle of life will begin again in earnest.
In my climate, it takes time to develop mature, resilient colonies that have the resources and collective knowledge to thrive. Not all make it. Only 3 of the 5 packages made it this far. That’s about what I’ve experienced in the past and expected as much.
But these hives are in their prime and springs is just around the corner. It’s a great time to be alive!