This is mostly a vent but I am also interested in all opinions on going forward. I started beekeeping in April 2009 with two packages from Rossman which is less than 100 miles from here. Both queens were superseded by July and one, Lillith, didn't make it through the Atlanta floods. I ordered another package for 2010 from the same supplier and a queen from BeeWeaver, thinking I might be able to split the surviving hive by her May arrival. Instead, the new queen arrived just in time to save them from queenlessness. The new package, a rechristened Lillith, took off well and I mostly left them alone except for mite counts (they never had more than 2). The old hive, Galadriel, went into September in two medium 8 frame boxes and Lillith solidly filled one.
Then came the coldest winter I can ever remember. Seriously. We had a white Christmas in Atlanta!
Oh, and did I mention I had a baby in October?
Consequently, late autumn feed was neglected. Both hives had some honey stores but I knew neither had enough. I tried to remember sugar syrup, but I outgrew my beesuit (the don't make a maternity size!) in August and my husband is...well, "forgetful" would be a kind way to put it. I did manage to get about 5 gallons in each by November (a month after my emergency C-section) and some dry sugar on top by the first of December, but I fear the damage was done.
Today is a beautiful sunny day and Lillith is dead. The cluster was about the size of a honeydew, their little bodies deep within the comb, and all 8 frames licked clean. Galadriel seems to be okay and I would appreciate any advice to keep her that way. She still has dry sugar atop and we're predicted to have a solid week of 55+ temps so I'll make some 2:1 syrup for tomorrow. I think I'll also add a quarter sized pollen patty, but I dare not add more for fear of SHBs, with which I currently have period of detente.
Was there a way to save this hive by the time I was physically able to attend to them again? They had two outside frames of pollen and honey, a lovely football shaped brood nest, and a cozy pest-free population as of September - yes, brood with zero mite fall.They actually went into winter in better shape than Galadriel's paltry 4 1/2 frames with no honey from the year before.
Or maybe I should just stop naming hives after the mother of demons and stick to elvish queens.