On Saturday, I performed my first inspection this year of my overwintered hive. I was happy that they survived but amazed at what I found.
I had them in two deeps and a medium. With the exception of those frames that had brood, it was all filled with honey the last time I checked in early October. It was virtually empty of honey on Saturday. Many frames had bees with their rear ends sticking out. Clearly they starved. But what really astonished me was that below the slotted rack, there were maybe ten thousand dead bees. They were a grayish, powdery mess. It was sad to see. The interesting thing, though, is that there are probably that many live bees up in the brood boxes.
I didn't find the queen but there was brood. I was distracted by everything else so I am hoping she is okay. In October, there were two queens. I am guessing they jettisoned the marked queen somewhere along the way.
Everyone here kept speaking about the "Mountain Camp" method so I did it several weeks ago just to be on the safe side. I am glad I did. I suspect it sustained them.
All-in-all it is a pretty fascinating hobby. I thought I'd left them a ridiculous amount of honey. But, I figured I'd have a bumper crop of honey this spring if I left them plenty of sustenance. Wrong! I wasn't planning on feeding them but I am doing so now to help them out any way that I can. Note to self: take more photos next time!