Now that it is May and the flow is in full swing, here's a bit of a report:
The winter was hard. a bit colder than last year. Not that it was a terrible awful winter, but it was very wet, had snow and cold snaps at exactly the worst times. A couple of days in mid winter were sunny warm, fooling the bees onto making some hygienic runs and scouting forays. I'm afraid the cold and rain and wet caught them outside a couple of times. I started feeding all of them in January, as they were getting very light in stores. Alas, we lost about half of the colonies. The two original horizontal (kTBH) hives at the Eagle's Rest garden died out or absconded. When I opened the hives they showed traces of a massive wax moth invasion. I have removed them from the location and started cleaning them up and sterilizing them; melted down the empty combs - saving the wax for a future cosmetics project by my daughter Jenn.
Karen and Maria's 48" kTBH came through the winter just fine. (They fed them in January and February.) They have acquired another "mentor" who set them up with a Langstroth; so I am setting them free to do their own thing now with two diverse hives -- maybe more as the season wears on. (Of course, if anything exciting happens, I'll report it.)
Here at the home apiary, everyone came through. They are all out and about and really active. The hives boxes are getting stuffed. The Hard Luck Warré is now four boxes tall and ready for another "nadir". (In a Warré operation one puts the new ... um ... 'supers' on the bottom as bees naturally want to build down, not up.) These guys are those pretty golden Italians. They're proving to be tough, prolific and not hard to work with.This year the bees are a little darker in this one hive -- I assume they are hybridizing because of some illicit mating flight that resulted in some feral DNA being added? (I really should pay more attention to our queens)
The same golden bees inhabit my original bio-dynamic Lang, and they are truly light yellow gold and so pretty. Now in its third season, the hive itself was at first struggling and slow to grow. I had trouble getting the bees to move up into the first super I put on. After many false attempts and several suggestions from the bee forums (unsuccessful), I simply took a page from the Warré book and put the super on the bottom, under the brood box. Wallah -- they moved right down and filled the box. I put another super on top in March and they have now proceeded to start inhabiting it too. No, I dunno why they decided it was now okay to move up.. Perhaps it's because I put those Pierco frames in this one super, rather than the starter-strip frames I usually use? Hmmmm.
Golden Italians that came from the bio-Lang. (remember the other one I let go away?). They were the first bees out and active as spring began, and they continue to be ahead of the rest of the hives. It's now three boxes tall and ready, I think, before long to have another box. I might even take some honey this year. I really like this little hive, all natural and unfinished. I put a modified square roof on it, from an idea I got from David Heaf.
Okay, that's about all the bee news. I'm gonna clean up the junk and clear the weeds back from the home hives, don't worry. Ed has moved his main Eagle's Rest Garden operation to a new property over on Lost Creek. I don't think I will put the two kTBHs back, should my swarm traps catch more bees. I'm gonna re-roof them (stay tuned for a report on refurbishing these horizontal hives) and set them up here at home for awhile. I'll either move the Redwood Warré or the Biodynamic Lang over there very soon. He'll need the bees for pollination right away.
End o' report. How are your bees?