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February Bee Update

February 13, 2011

It is nearly 50 degrees today so I went to check the bees.  On Dec 31st it had been warm and bees were flying from 3 of the 4 hives, suggesting one hive was already dead.  Today I put my ear to the side of each hive and rapped a couple of times.  Two hives rewarded me with buzzing.  Two were quiet.

I opened the two I suspected of being dead and they clearly were.  The hives were heavy though, so they hadn’t run out of food. When I looked further I found that the queens in both hives had been laying eggs and each hive had lots of open brood (larvae that hadn’t been covered over yet).  The bees would have been working hard to keep those larvae warm, so hard that they couldn’t move to where the honey was, or they were so spread out they froze.  Either way, they’re dead.

The living colonies were the two smaller ones, the one I’d won and the swarm I caught.  I’ll want to do what I can to keep them alive through the rest of February and into March.  I have top hive feeders on each hive.  I cut comb from frames of honey from the two dead hives and put that in each feeder.  This week is supposed to be in the 40’s, 50’s, even 60’s, so hopefully the bees will be warm enough that they can go up to the feeders and bring honey back down.  When the weather gets cold again at the end of next week, with any luck the bees will have some stores to get them through until the next warmish day when I can put more in.

That’s the plan anyway.  Keep those fingers crossed.

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