The promise of a moist El Niño spring is still eluding us, but who am I to complain about a 74 degree day?   We could really use some moisture, but despite the lack of that, the crocuses are blooming and my girls are bringing in pollen from maples, ash and some flowers.  I even saw some nectar in some of the cells today.

We finished up the main part of our El Niño project flights out of Hawaii, so I took advantage of the break in daily weather briefings to take some time for myself and check on BnB2.  I’ve been worried that they are using up their honey stores until the real nectar flow starts in 6 weeks and wanted to see how the queen was laying.

I had some extra bars of honey that I snagged from Sarah’s hive, so I thought if BnB2 needed some, I could give her some of that.  I was saving it for the package bees we are going to get in April to repopulate Sarah’s and Duncan’s hives, but I think have plenty of extra honey and combs for that so even if I give some to BnB2, the new packages would be fine.

Capped brood in BnB2 in March

Capped brood in BnB2 in March

When I opened up the hive, starting behind the follower board which was at about bar 13, there were several bees hanging out on the empty bars back there which I saw as a good sign.  As I moved forward, I found that they had been eating up their honey stores.  Last time I looked, they had 4 full bars of honey, but today, they were down to about two bars in reserve.

BnB2's qeen - Ain't she pretty?

BnB2’s queen – Ain’t she pretty?

I went through the entire hive and found four bars of full of brood and some pollen and honey near the front.  The queen was hanging out on the 5th bar that had a little bit of brood.  Since there were lots of bees and more on the way, I switched the entrance reducer over to a larger opening.  Before I started looking in the hive, there were lots of bees taking orientation flights, so I delayed my inspection until there were fewer at the entrance.

Wider entrance now

Wider entrance now

I added two bars of honey to the back behind the brood to make sure they had enough to get through the next few weeks.  I’d rather feed them honey than sugar water, but I want to have keep a few bars of honey for the new packages, so I might have to resort to sugar water if the nectar flow doesn’t come soon enough.  It was interesting that the hum of the hive changed when I added the new bars of honey.  I couldn’t tell if it was a happy or alarmed sound but I just noticed that it was different.  I hope they were happy.

Another beekeeper in the area reported that he has seen some drone brood in his hives which is a sign that splits and swarms are nigh, but I didn’t find any in my hive.  I suspect that in a couple of weeks, I’ll find some and then it will be time to start thinking about splitting BnB2 into BnB1.  But I still have to clean out BnB1 before that can happen.

Diana and I are heading to Cancun tomorrow for a week (leaving Patrick home to fend for himself – poor baby).  While I’m looking forward to the trip, the timing is bad in terms of beekeeping and gardening.  I’m behind in my seed starting.  Many crops I start from seed call for starting seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost which is next week.  I was hoping to get some planted tonight (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc), but here I am writing a blog post instead.  But, I did get part of the garden rototilled today and some seeds planted.  Although it’s only March and we are expecting some snow for St. Patrick’s day, I think this is going to be a mild spring so planting now will give me a good head start.

Garden planted behind BnB2, bumble bee house near the fence

Garden planted behind BnB2, bumble bee house near the fence

I still expect a snowstorm in the 4th week of April.  It always snows the week after I get my bee packages which are scheduled for April 17th.  So, although Spring seems to be in full swing, the equinox is still a week away and there’s more winter to be had!

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Categories: Hive inspection

1 Comment

Julie · March 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Wow! Your bees look fantastic! Looks like you’ll be ready for splits before you know it. 🙂

A trip to Cancun sounds wonderful. Even if the seeds get planted a little late, they’ll still come up. But time with your sweetie… that should never wait. 🙂

Hope you and Diana have a great trip!

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