Sorry it has been so long since my last post. The last couple of weeks have been really busy and I'm trying to get ready for the new beekeeping season, so that means I've had my hands full. So here's an update on my building and getting ready for spring.
My storage building is finally finished! After a month of delays, mostly weather related, the crew came to my house and had it up in a week. They actually had the four walls and roof up in three days, but with the windows and doors and the shingles and paint, it took a full week. But I'm not complaining. It looks great and I'm already putting stuff in there. All of my beekeeping supplies are there along with my yard tools, and I still have plenty of room for other goodies too. To be honest, I'm a little afraid that with all of that new space available, my storage building could end up like my garage...no room for anything. But I've made a pact with myself that I'll keep it neat and orderly...and we'll see how long that will last.
I did an inspection last last week and found my hive alive and doing very well. The sugar I poured on the wax paper and placed on top of the frames was halfway gone, the girls had eaten through the bottom and made a large hole in the sugar and had taken over half of it away. I really wasn't expecting that but its good to see that the method works and I won't hesitate to use it again next winter if needed.
The top and bottom deeps were really active with a lot of bees. To be honest, it was a nice surprise. It took a few minutes but I finally pried one of the end frames out to see that the girls had seriously used up their winter store of honey. I also found three frames that still had honey, but all the other frames were completely empty and the cells cleaned up. As I pulled up some of the frames, I found where the queen had laid eggs in the burr comb. In that burr comb, I found larvae in all stages...so she's already busy at work getting ready for the spring. I figured she would be working since the daytime temperatures here are now in the 60s and those bees out foraging have been bringing in a lot of pollen. They're even storing the pollen all through the frames, its a yellow-greenish pollen they've put in cell after cell. One frame was completely covered on one side, and they were seriously working on the other side.
So after taking the top and bottom boxes apart and cleaning up all the burr comb (and there was a LOT of it) I put some 1:1 syrup in the feeder to get them through the next few weeks. Since there's no nectar sources available now and they can still starve, I decided to give them some thin syrup. After I put the feed bag on, I closed up shop. I'll go back at the end of this week to make sure they're doing okay with the syrup and that things look okay under the hood.
In preparation for splitting this hive, which I plan to do when the weather stays calm and I can get my hands on another queen, I've already painted the second hive. As you can see, its a very bright yellow. I figure that since my two hives will sit side-by-side, I'm hoping that the color difference will make it easy for my bees to differentiate their own home hive. And as soon as I get a third hive set up, I plan to paint it lime green -- then take the current two hive bodies (now in use) and keep it as a swarm hive...probably as the standard white. I realize that painting my hives probably makes them stick out more, but they're protected where they sit. Plus I believe we all need a little color in this sometimes drab world. I'm really looking forward to put the new colored hives to work. Next up...names for my colonies. I'm not sure what names I'll annoint them with, but I'm giving it serious consideration right now. It will be a lot better than yellow hive, lime green hive, white hive, etc. Stay tuned.
More later. Until then, I hope you're all doing well and planning for another banner year in this wonderful world of beekeeping!