We had our first bright and mild day of the year on Sunday (8th Feb 15). So I thought I would head over and see if there was any activity.
I went in to winter with three of my own hives:
A Warré with Mata Hari and the sneaky bees.
A national(ish) with Poppy.
A kenyan topbar hive containing Boudica and her bees.
I am also looking after (or leaving alone) a hive for a friend who found himself without an apiary.
My own hives were all swarms from June last year who recieved no feeding. They will all have come from hives managed on foundation so will not have fully regressed. They will also not be used to a no treatment approach. All hives seemd alive though with one or two bees flying. There were a few dead bees outside the hives where they are tidying up ready for the new year.
Steve’s Hive however was going great guns. These bees come from a long line of treatment free natural comb colonies (spanning 10 years). I had been a little worried about this hive as when I checked a few weeks back there was a lot of chewed wax on the floor. This is a good indication that a mouse has had a go in there. Looking through the viewing window I could see no bees but there was a small amount of condensation suggesting something warm in there (though that could have been mice).
Steve’s bees were diligently removing the mouse mess and performing their spring cleaning. There was certainly no question as to the strength of the colony. This too was a swarm in June, which again swarmed in July. I recombined the two colonies in October to give them a chance to harvest the Ivy nectar flow. One had lots of bees, the other lots of comb, and neither had time to make up the difference. Whether it was ultimately the right decision or not the hive certainly seems as though it is entering the new year strong with plenty of early bees and three boxes of comb. I am kind of hoping Steve won’t get around to collecting them to June so I might get a chance of housing some of these myself.