I wish I had my camera with me today. The temperature hit high 40’s so I figured this was the chance to get out and put some winter patties on the hives. My friend Paul ordered them from Dadant and had them sent to my house. He’s currently in Alabama for the winter, and asked if I could put them on his hives for him, so we split a forty pound box. I wasn’t sure if my hives really needed them, but thought it might be a good idea as an insurance policy.
I went to all of his hives first. One that was in the coldest part of the mountain hadn’t made it, but the other three had nice clusters and the hives still felt fairly heavy. I gave each of them 3 one pound patties. I checked all of the hives in my backyard. The nucs definitely didn’t survive, but the two full size hives were doing excellent. The clusters was really big, in fact I was pretty amazed at their sizes. The same was true of three other hives I checked in two other locations. I gave them all a couple of pounds of patty. These were the best looking hives I’ve seen in the winter since I started keeping bees.It would have made some nice pictures, but I probably wouldn’t have taken any anyway. It was more important to get in and out as fast as possible and not lose any more heat from the cluster than necessary. I still have three other hives that I didn’t have time to get to today. Hopefully the weather will co-operate enough to allow it this week.
My top bar hive, as I expected, didn’t survive, but I’m not discouraged. They got a really late start, and I intend to try them again. I cleaned out all of the dead bees, and the entrance has a mouse guard on it, so it should be okay. There are quite a few beautiful frames of comb awaiting the arrival of more bees.
As always, I ordered a few packages of bees, and I’ll get a few queens as well. Maybe this will be the year we’ve been waiting for.
Update February 9th 2012: I had to make a delivery to the farm yesterday, so I decided to check the hives over there. Both are also looking great. In fact, I pulled the cover off of one and didn’t see any bees at first. I lifted the back end of the hive and it was still very heavy, and I thought why would these have dies. Then I saw the bees slowly coming up through the super. Apparently they have been very frugal and were still in the bottom box. I quickly put a winter patty on them and got them buttoned back up. Well off to work on the book. I’m currently working on a hive stand with an adjustable landing board so it can be used with just a screened, or solid bottom board, or both together.