The First Hive Inspection of 2021
With temperatures just about getting to double figures, the sun shining and no wind I decided it was time for the first hive inspection of 2021. The bees and been flying for a couple of days. They’d even looked quite busy for a few minutes at one point. I therefore knew that there were at least some bees in both hives. Now was the time to find out how many there were and if the colonies had made it through the winter.
First was a reminder of how things were when I prepared the hives for winter. I keep records at Beetight, and also tend to report anything significant in our blog here. I also have hive record sheets that people seem to like. From memory I knew there were two hives with colonies in the apiary. My records showed these to be called Leri and Clettwr.
Leri was on a double brood box with a 2019 queen and had gone into the winter with a full super of honey. Clettwr had re-queened in August 2020 and had gone into the winter on a single brood box and not much in the way of stores.
Fortunately, upon checking today both colonies seem fine. I didn’t do a proper inspection as the temperature was still just below 10ºC but none of the colonies seem to have used much of their stores.
Leri still had a very heavy super and the top brood box was jam packed too. I didn’t venture into the bottom brood box or look for the queen. There seemed to be plenty of bees coming and going, some bringing back pollen too. I decided it was best to leave them to it as they seemed to be doing well. I took off the mouse-guard as it looked as though it was preventing them from removing their dead. Otherwise, I left the hive configured as it was but did give them a feed of syrup. I don’t think they needed it as they had plenty of stores, but it won’t do them any harm and should hopefully encourage the queen to start ramping up her rate of laying.
Clettwr was looking good too. It’s a smaller colony, but there were plenty of bees. There were quite a few returning with pollen too which is always a good sign. Stores in the super were quite low. Not surprising as that was the case going into winter. Again I didn’t disturb the brood box but once again removed the mouse-guard and gave them a Spring feed.
Today looks to be shaping up to be a perfect day for them but tomorrow and Wednesday is set to be wet and windy. Hopefully the container of feed will keep them busy.
If we have a warm, calm, sunny day next week then I might do a proper inspection, check that both are still queen-right and give the hardware a bit of a clean. As usual, the damp winters here don’t do the wooden hives any favours, so I will have to replace some components. I’m gradually upgrading them all to red cedar hives that should last longer than the pine or plywood ones that we started with.
It’s far too early for any predictions yet as there will no doubt be swarms, artificial swarms, cast swarms, matings and all manner of other twists and turns in the busy soap opera of life inside the apiary this year. We didn’t get any honey last year, but hopefully with two decent colonies to start the year and relatively young queens we might manage a harvest this year. Fingers crossed as usual.