Winter Solstice Quick Check

I noticed the other day that there were quite a few dead bees in front of the “Bees Rules” hive.  This got me a little bit anxious to see if there were more serious issues going on.  It was 47 F. today so I figured that I could take a look at the hive tops and see if there were any dead-outs.  I also thought that I might as well put a little fondant on the top bars.

The first look was at the “Bees Rules” hive.  It is the one that caused my original concern.  It is two eight frame deeps with a medium on top.  Over that I have a vivaldi board filled with wood shavings.  I noticed that the wood shavings were a little damp so I opened up one of the 2” vent ports on the side of the vivaldi board.

On removing the board and looking at the top bars there were a lot of bees between the center five frames of the hive.  There was a scattering of bees on top if the top bars.  They seemed to be moving and active so I put a square of fondant on the top bars and closed things back up.

The next check was a look at the “Tardis” hive.  It is also two eight frame deeps with a medium on top.  It is set up with a 3/4 inch feeder shim, a regular inner cover, and an outer cover with 3/4” insulation cut to fit the inside.  Lots of bees between the inner and outer cover.  They had eaten some of the insulation directly above the hole in the inner cover.  On removing the inner cover I found that the top bars were completely covered with bees and they seemed to be filling the space between the frames rather well.  I put a square of fondant on the top bars and closed things back up.

My next check was the ‘Misty” nuc.  This is a 5X5 deep nuc with a feeder shim and a regular inner and outer cover. The top was just packed with bees.  I have no idea if they are also covering well between the frames as there were so many bees on the top bars.  I carefully slid in a square of fondant and closed things back up.

The ‘Utah’ hive is really just a nuc in the wrong boxes.  It is an eight frame deep with a medium on top.  It is set up with a vivaldi board instead of an inner cover.  The wood shavings in the vivaldi board were dry so I did not add more ventilation.  Under the vivaldi board the bees were covering more than half of the top bars and there seemed to be bees between the center five or six frames.

So it looks like everyone made it at least to the solstice.  I’m surprised that “Bees Rules” seemed to be the least populated of the bunch.  It was probably the most populated back in November.  The dead bees in front might be an indicator that they are having a tough go of things, but are hanging on for the time being.

If we get a nice day in mid January I think I’ll go over them again and add a little fondant to each.

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