2018 Apiary Season notes - Southwest Missouri

After having issues with the Shire queens getting mated last year, we ordered an Italian and two Carniolan queens from Honey Hive Farms to introduce some new genetics, they should arrive in April.

Jan 1 - This was our first attempt to winter over a small colony, by placing it over a full sized hive with heat venting into the NUC. Tempatures have gotten down to -2 degrees and it was losing more bees that it could sustain. The right photo is a thermal picture showing heat venting from the NUC thru the robbing/moving screen. This stacked configuration seems to work until it got down into the teens. We brought it inside late in December and reconfigured it for indoors.

Jan 10 - It's the first warm day in quite a while, and all the hives are still alive and out flying today with it around 60 degrees.

  This is our current configuration for the small colony experiment. It has a 12x12 screened cover on the front to allow them to clean out the hive and relieve themselves. A wet sponge on the screen gives them water and a top feeder hole is to the right. The room stays between 50-70 degrees and a small radiant heater is placed nearby.

   I did have the opportunity to look inside and didn't find a lot of bees, but did find approximately a 4 inch diameter cluster of capped brood near the far wall of the NUC near the radiant heater. I'm maintaining approximately 95 degrees on the NUC wall where the capped brood is. It should be easier for them to cool the brood area vs having to heat it. They had capped honey stores, so I'm feeding them small pieces of Pro-Patties in the top feeder hole.

  One observation I have seen with this hive, is that these current worker bees are somewhat larger, nearer drone size. Dead summer bees from the floor are noticeably smaller. I'm assuming these larger bees, are workers with winter fat stores. The current capped brood should hatch around the 21st. Since I'm creating a spring like enviroment now, it will be interesting to see if this batch is normal sized summer bees.

Jan 21 - Observed a change in bee types, some are smaller, more like the worker size I normally see, and some of the coloration of some the adomens has changed either to a darker color or entirely black, coloration I nornally see in my hives in the summer. Debris on the bottom board indicates more activiity on the frame where the capped brood was observed 10 days ago.

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