The Start of Spring Chores

I pruned the ornamental crabs and gave the branches to the
sheep. They nibbled a little, but weren’t really interested.

Checked the hives. Mine buzzed audibly and I saw one flying bee. No sound from Lisa’s. Many dead bees in the feeder, none moving. Took the feeder off to
bring in and clean. Saw a few bees moving slowly in the hive body, many that looked dead.

I made pollen substitute, the same sticky mess as last year and took it out. Saw a few more bees in Lisa’s hive. Looked like they didn’t have a cluster. Not a
good sign. Mine were definitely there, and not happy when I took off the
feeder to put in the patty. There was a moldy patty from last fall, with a few
bees chowing down. Since I hadn’t suited up, I left it there and gave them the
new one as well. Even if I had been protected, it was pretty cold, and bees
that I stirred up were not too likely to make it home alive, so minimal
interference seemed a good thing. It was also way too cold to check for brood.

Lisa’s hive had actually eaten more syrup than mine, although mine did have
bees feeding. Nevertheless, I filled both feeders.

I went out again at 4pm. There were bees flying from both hives, although only two or three from Lisa’s. Nobody was feeding on Lisa’s hive, same few on mine. NB, Lisa’s hive went into the winter noticeably heavier than mine even after mine sucked down an extra 10 lbs of syrup in the fall. With far fewer bees, they may be ok for honey.

We have two more colonies coming a month from now. I’m hoping for a seriously warm day before then to get in and see if Lisa’s has a queen and brood. If not I’ll have to figure out how split the surviving bees with the new colonies.

Relatedly, I wonder if it’s a win to try grabbing brood as well as drawn comb
from my hive to give to the new ones. I can certainly pull half a dozen drawn
frames from each existing hive, so the new queen can start laying immediately,
but brood would let the new hives really hit the air buzzing as it were. I
think I may get to try the experiment. I doubt I can take two frames of brood
from my hive or any from Lisa’s, so one new hive may get brood but not the other.

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