Second inspection of the year- springlike!
It was in the low 70s (F) in Saint Louis today and I had the opportunity to inspect my two overwintered colonies. One is a bit stronger than the other but they both looked to be embracing spring!
The nuc that was a bit weaker looked like it was fighting off robbing so I went through it fast and put a reducer (drilled cork) in the entrance that narrowed it down to one bee at a time. It took a few minutes for the pollen-laden foragers to figure it out but then they were back to business less the fighting at the entrance. There were a couple of capped brood cells, some very young larvae, and a whole bunch of maybe two day old eggs. Both were busy bringing in a lot of pollen and even some nectar from somewhere. I even saw both queens! One was marked but it has worn off and the other I never marked. I'd like to mark them but decided to wait until it won't be a tragedy if something goes awry (drones around).
What struck me most was how little stores the Buckfast colony went through overwintering. I had thought they had gone through six combs of honey but they really only went through a little over half of the honey on six combs and a tiny bit on a seventh. Now that they are bringing in nectar and pollen their available room to store and lay in the broodnest is impaired by their frugality so I added three empty drawn combs from one of the lost colonies (not from the one that had dysentery). I think in three weeks the population of this colony is going to ramp up dramatically. (YAY!)
The other colony went through almost all the honey on their 9 full and one partial bar. There was maybe a hand sized patch left when I checked in February so I took out some of their empty drawn comb and gave them three and a half bars of honey. They may have been fine anyway since they still have that hand sized patch plus nectar but I had it so it was easy insurance.
All in all I am just tickled to see them thriving! After I inspected I took a nice walk around my neighborhood looking for all the old silver maples that must be helping my bees rebuild after a long winter. I always enjoyed nature but I look at it with completely different eyes now. There used to be a silver maple in front of my house but it was on the downhill side of it's life and was removed by the city. Most of them in my neighborhood were planted around the same time and are about at the end of their lifespan. They don't seem to get planted much anymore and it made me wonder what will help the neighborhood's bees through a hard winter when they are gone. I know we have some red maples around that are younger, but they also don't bloom as early. (Before bees I didn't think about either blooming at all!)
I hope like me you are all enjoying the expanded world that keeping bees has given you! Happy almost spring!
3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b