What an interesting, weather event filled, winter it has been. Here in Colorado we have had beautiful 60 degree sunny days followed by brutally cold days of snow and ice. This winter will put any mediocre hive to the test.
But, as the month of January comes to an end, I am happy to report that currently we have only lost one hive (Number 8). I had to move Hive 8 from the suburbs to the apiary in the Black Forest, due to an unforeseen land sale. It was three deep when we moved it and the move itself went very well.
However, I am certain its demise had something to do with the move. I have not gone through the hive, frame by frame, to actually determine the reason. Right now I speculate that the queen somehow was smashed during the move. Or, the hive lost many bees who could not orientate themselves to their new location. Once they left the hive they never returned. I thought the newly added mouse guard would help with this, but looking back I should have also added some leaves or a branch to insure better orientation. Once it is warmer I will go through the hive and find a conclusive reason for their death. For now, the hive is sealed. Closed to prevent ladies, from the other hives around it, from robbing the resources.
On a happier note, all of the other twenty-three hives seem to be persistent on surviving the winter. This includes the two hives in nucleus hive bodies (Hives 4 and 20). I imagine I will have to monitor their food reserves as the winter comes to a close. I plan on exchanging any empty frames with frames of honey as needed.
This year we hope to increase our hive numbers to fifty, with at least eight of these colonies residing in nucleus hive bodies. In addition, we will be grafting many more queens this year from our hives where her highness has proven herself. Not only will this increase our own genetic diversity in our apiary but, hopefully, we will also be able to help other beekeepers in their quest to become treatment free. Of course, we also plan on continuing to relocate (cutout) honey bees who have chosen a not so ideal location for their home.