We all check our hives several times throughout the winter, right? Well you should, but this is just a short paragraph or two about what you might see in the spring, particularly if you haven’t kept an eye on your hives.
The thing that got me thinking about this was a recent event when someone said they thought that a swarm had moved into an empty hive and wanted me to check it out.
When I did, at first I saw a fair amount of bees using both the main and upper entrances. Looked promising.
I stood by the main entrance, bent over, and observing the bees. There were lots of bees going in and out, butI didn’t see any bees carrying pollen. None looked heavy with nectar as they landed on the bottom board. There was no sign of guard bees scurrying back and forth, making physical contact with incomers to be sure they were hive mates.
All of these signs pointed to one conclusion. The hive was being emptied of it’s remaining stores by bees from other colonies.
I didn’t really have to open the hive to confirm this, but we did, just to take a look.
I have seen this happen several times with other beekeepers, and I knew all of this from experience because I once went to check two of my hives in the spring and was excited to see activity at both entrances. I smiled thinking the bees had made it through the winter, and upon opening them found one was doing quite well, but the other had died and was being robbed.
I would hate for you to have the experience of getting your hopes up, only to be disappointed. The best way to prevent that is to be sure the mite count is low in the fall, that they have proper ventilation and plenty of stores going into the winter. Here in the Berkshires, I am going into winter with at least 2 deeps and a medium super. We will see how it goes.