Today we had a warm though windy day, giving us the opportunity to pop some covers and see how the bees wintered. We were quite happy with what we found. So far all of our colonies are alive, though March is can be a challenging month for the bees as stores start to run low. We’re guessing at this point that we’ll have around 90% survival once the winter is officially over. One thing we definitely did notice was that this year the clusters on average are the largest that we’ve ever had. Most of the top brood box was chuck full of bees on almost every colony. Apparently the mild winter we’ve had has allowed the queens to really get cranking a lot more than is typical for this time of the year. The bad news is, generating all those bees have depleted colony resources which necessitates feeding. At the moment moment we’re just giving them dry sugar, once we get consistently warm temperatures about 50 degrees during the daytime (usually around the second week of April) we’ll switch to syrup.
We’re going to hold off on the pollen patties for a bit, lest we go to the poor house buying sugar this Spring, only to see the bees swarm before we have a chance to do splits! It will be interesting to find out how other beekeepers have done this winter. Hopefully we’ll find out this coming weekend when we attend the Michigan Beekeepers Association’s Spring Conference down at Michigan State University.