Sunday, April 12, 2015

The bees re-emerge.

The first three winters of my beekeeping career I failed utterly to coax a hive into over-wintering.  They all absconded, starved or otherwise expired before the spring nectar flow.  (0 for 7, I think.)

Part of that comes from my general approach to these kinds of things - which is to see how little I can get away with doing, before I start following all of the complicated edicts from the experts.

But my two colonies have successfully survived the winter and are currently finding nectar and pollen somewhere.  All I see around me are crocuses, snowdrops and the odd periwinkle blossom, but I suspect they are off to the swamp visiting the skunk cabbage.  They are already putting up nectar.

The smaller of the colonies I've written off as dead at least three times - first, last April when I accidentally uncaged the new queen directly into the hive - second when I checked back a few weeks later and found no brood at all - and third when I peeked in during the winter and found the too-light hive quiet and apparently empty.  (I only looked in the top - but in the other hive bee activity was high in the hive and obvious.)  I've never been able to spot this zombie queen that seems to keep bringing things back to life.

To myself I call that hive Corinth and the bigger, more vigorous hive Athens.

Last summer the nectar flow failed and not only did I harvest no honey, but in the fall I fed the two colonies something like 75 pounds of sugar just to give them some winter stores.  And yet this is the first lot of mine to survive.  Go figure.