We've been backyard (literally) beekeepers for a few years. We learn a bit more each year, and we've tried to expand our apiary a bit. Last fall we were up to 7 hives after splitting some hives, adding a queen and also capturing a swarm and moving them to a hive.
Now bees being bees, they don't always play nice with each other. They WILL rob weaker hives to boost their own stores.
And bees being bees, sometimes they decide to pull up stakes and head elsewhere to make a new home (when you see a swarm, you've caught the colony en masse making one of those moves).
So as we headed into winter we were hopeful that we had seven viable hives. We'd given each hive a candyboard (basically hardened sugar with extra nutrients) and wrapped the hive in what's called a bee cozy (basically the same principle as your drink cozy).
So today was our day for our first Spring season work. We have to wait until the weather warms to take the tops off and remove the cozy and the extra boxes we added for the winter season.
What we hoped was that we'd be seven for seven, all hives healthy. We've been watching the hive activity recently on the warmer days and knew our odds were a bit sketchy about that 7 for 7 thing. At least one hive was showing very little activity.
Sure enough as we did our work this afternoon, 3 of the hives were basically empty. The few bees we saw were scavengers from the other hives coming in to take the honey and pollen stored by the previous residents. From the looks of things, we'd say 2 of the 3 left last fall, and the other hive just didn't survive the winter. It was a relatively mild winter in southwest Ohio, so we don't think it was the cold that took them out. There are other health reasons that can cause a colony to collapse, and overall we can't complain. We know at least one of those missing colonies is still out there in the woods nearby because we see the bees visiting our flower boxes. That hive had bees that were a bit more chocolate colored than our other colonies, so we know them when we see them!
The net result of the colonies leaving is we'll have some unplanned honey to harvest soon.
Now we could turn this into a real estate related post, but hey, it's 10 p.m. on a Saturday night! So we'll just leave this post as a little information about our beekeeping hobby!
Now if you want to talk real estate, just give Bill a call at 513-520-5305 or email Liz@LizSpear.com.
Serving Greater Cincinnati home buyers and sellers,
Bill & Liz aka BLiz