This afternoon Mark went to the bee yard at Barhams'. I wanted to go, but had to work.
Here's his report:
"I have six hives over there. Four of them have serious populations. Three of those have adequate honey stores. One does not. The two weaker hives probably should be combined with stronger hives, if I can find those two queens and kill them. Both of them are loaded with honey because there's not a big enough population of bees. So next time I'm over there, I'm going to break them down, find the queens, and boot 'em out. Then I'll distribute the boxes at Harley's and on the hive that needs honey stores. I changed the oil in all of the traps. I didn't see any small hive beetles."
Then he went to Harley's. He changed the oil there too.
"I don't have honey supers on any of the three hives there. All three of them are jam-packed with bees. One of them has enough honey, the other two do not. So, when I break down those two weak hives at Barhams', I'll take their resources, and put them on the two hives needing honey."
All of the strong hives have capped brood, which is the result of the warm winter weather we've had. Normally there wouldn't be a lot of brood in February, as the potential for cold weather still exists, and there usually isn't a lot in bloom to stimulate the bees.The reason he's able to get into the hives so early in the season is persistently warmer temperatures. According to Harry Fulton, the bees are 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule. This means we'll have to watch for over-crowding and a desire to swarm. I'm working with Harry on a feature story this week, and when it's released I'll post it here on the blog.
Mark says if it's nice tomorrow, he'll get all of this accomplished while the weather is good. I wish I could go!
We've officially sold out of all of our honey. I guess I'll have to start the waiting list for our spring harvest!