Well, it was a happy/sad weekend for our bees. We’re having a brief warm spell, 50F instead of 25F, so I re-checked the hives for fondant. The weaker hive is a dead out, but I had time to clean up the mess before pests come in. Most of the dead bees were in the bottom and a small cluster, maybe the size of a grapefruit died at the top of the hive near plenty of fondant. They just couldn’t keep up the temperature in the 0F weather a couple of weeks ago. Some of them were face-down in comb looking for warmth/food, but the rest were just in a ball.
Cleaned all that out then went to look at the hive that was performing good hygiene and kicking out dead bees. They were strong, just starting on the fondant I put out a few weeks ago, and pissed off. Which means they’re pretty healthy if they’re in the mood to defend the hive.
Today we went to the Western PA meeting of the state beekeeping association and saw some good talks on splitting and feeding. We’re going to remake our most recent batch of fondant mixing in bee pollen and aminos. One of our local beeks, “only 48 years in the business”, has about 80 hives and has been experimenting with foods for the past 10 years in controlled a/b tests.
His results are almost unbelievable. He has so many strong hives now that he’s starting to pre-order queens so he can split as many as 40 hives. “Overfeeding” bees seems to be the right thing to do, not the wrong thing. Give them enough carbs, vitamins, and aminos that the younger bees can mature and the older bees are ready to go as soon as it gets warm.
Another speaker talked about splitting and winter hives and planning in Summer what you want in the Spring. If you want 10 hives next year, assume a significant portion will die out and plan on having 13 strong hives by the end of summer.
Tomorrow we’ll redo the fondant for the one strong hive and start getting ready for the two nucs that show up in March. We’ve also got a new location for two hives (if we can split/buy more) and a potential third location next year for as many as 16 or 20 if we have the time/investment dollars.