Like many folks across the country, this has been a weird winter. Honestly, it may not be so weird compared to when I was a kid, but lately, winters have been so mild. Anyhow, we had a this-year-rare nice weekend so I tromped out to my bee yard to see how my girls had fared.
Did I ever mention that there are only female bees in the hive at this time of year? You see, the males are only useful for breeding in the spring and summer when the colony may need a new queen. Queens only breed during a week or so period when they first hatch and never again. So, males (aka drones) are only good for breeding during that period when a new queen is hatched. Otherwise they just eat up resources which are precious through the winter. The females kick out all the males in the mid-Fall and make new in the spring. Males are made when the queen lays unfertilized eggs, a process she controls since all breeding happened during that one week of glory when she was first hatched.
Anyhow, I like to check on the bees on warm days to make sure they are still alive, haven’t starved and don’t have nosema (like bee dysentery). Bees “hold it” to keep the hives clean, so on a warmish day, they all need to get out and poop. Normal poop is fine but “the runs” is a bad thing so I check to make sure they are not abnormal.
So, for the most part, the colonies looked good. I may have lost one colony but that isn’t unexpected or unusual. I don’t like it, but some winter loss just happens, even in a well-managed apiary. I made some feed available in the form of sugar-water so any colony that is a little light on stores can grab a quick bit of food to get through the remaining weeks until the maples bloom and the pollen and nectar flow again. That is often at the end of February through the beginning on March but with our cold and snow, it may be a bit later. Well shall see, but for now, it looks like the bees are doing well!