Monday (Feb 25, 2013) the weather.com said it was 46.6 at around 4 pm. so I thought it would be a good time to see how many colonies made trough the winter so we can plan ahead and decide how many package bees to purchase. When I arrived at the apiary around 5 pm it was about 42. by the time I was done it was 36 around 6 pm.
1. Ten colonies at Simon’s Yard at Okemos. Only the 2 on the left and 2 on the right survived the winter. I guess my helper did not really compact the colonies down (one deep + 2 supers at most)…larger volume will be more difficult to keep warm! just like a larger house.
2. The first one was alive and I was happy to see it.
3. The third one, dead, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th..also dead… this one did not have enough bees. all dead ones had lots of honey left.
4. I had two at my back yard…both survived (guess who is a better beekeeper? or was it just luck?). Bees at the top like this is good and bad. Good because they are alive! Bad because they are running low of food. Bees will only move upward during winter…so if they have food below them they wont be able to use them when it is too cold outside (I would say if it is below 30 outside it becomes tough for bees to reach food more than one frame away from the cluster). .
5. Another shot…it was almost 6 pm and was rather dark…bees were moving and they were mostly blurred…this one will be filled with bees in a month, if we give them some pollen or substitutes.
6.the 100% survival at my backyard…
7. I added one medium super to the hive on the right. I also added one medium to two others at the Simon’s yard. Basically if I see bees at the top, I added food. if bees were between the top and lower super, they should be fine for another month, although checking in 2 weeks might help. We plan to feed some Megabee diet as pollen substitute soon (within the week).
Total survival: 2/2, 1/5, 4/10 = 7 out of 17 made it! I have another yard with 6 and 8, not checked yet. Decided that I need 20 more this year for research. I should have about 12-15 overwintered ones. Survival was 80% last winter (2012 spring). Package bees will cost about $85 per 3 pound of bees.