First beehive inspection of 2020

Since the weather is warming up, yesterday we did the first beehive inspection of the year. We had concerns about three of the hives, where we hadn’t seen much activity, and our concerns were justified. But two were looking strong. Read on for details… the bad news first, then the good news.

Firstly, the Flow hive. It was completely dead and empty:

Cedar hive

The pink hive was a split we did last year, so was quite small, and we weren’t confident that it would have enough resources to survive the winter. And we were right; it looks like they starved to death, then froze when the colony was too small to maintain warmth:

Dead bees

A mass of dead bees on the base:

Dead bees

It’s very sad to lose two hives. But things were looking up in the next hive — we were expecting more of the same in the engineering-challenged orange hive, but it was still alive:

Engineering-challenged orange hive

We saw the orange hive queen, too — the non-stripy bee in the lower-center of this picture:

Orange hive queen

We also saw the purple hive queen (see if you can spot her); they are also looking good:

Purple hive queen

A closer look at the queen — near the center of this picture:

Closer queen

A comb with bee bread (protein source for worker bees, made from pollen):

Bee bread

The feeders we had on the hives had some space above the frames, which encouraged them to build there. So we needed to scrape that off:


The scraped comb went into a bucket:


Still on the purple hive, a frame with drone cells; usually not something we want to see, but one frame is fine:


A frame with worker cells:


On to the yellow hive, they are in the best shape, with lots of honey stores still, though more incorrect building above the frames due to the feeder:

Yellow hive incorrect building

Unfortunate to destroy cells with bee larvae. Though we noticed some varroa mites on the larvae, which isn’t great:

Bee larvae with mites

A frame with some new honey:

New honey

We added ApiLife VAR mite treatments and a pollen patty to help feed them:

Mite treatment and pollen patty

A nice frame of honey and brood:

Honey and brood

Since they’re looking mostly full, we decided to add the Flow super:

Flow super

Sad: two empty hives:

Two empty hives

When scraping the bottom of the feeder, Jenn thought she saw the queen there:

Scraping feeder

So we removed the Flow super and put the feeder back on temporarily, so the queen could go back down where she should be:

Feeder back on temporarily

We’ll inspect again next weekend, and remove the feeder and possibly put on the Flow super again. Though we might have to finish the mite treatment first.

Again, it’s sad to lose two hives. But at least we have three remaining, to various levels of strength. Now that flowers are in bloom, they should become stronger. We’ll have to think about getting packages or nucs to replace the two hives, or possibly do splits from our other hives later in the year.

2 thoughts on “First beehive inspection of 2020

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