We've had some nice warm weather this week and the wind was calm so we did an inspection today, Nov 1. What we found was rather disturbing. The bees, both hives are in real trouble now, and just a few weeks ago everything looked great. Most of their honey reserves were gone and there was virtually no brood. What happened? Will we loose them?
This frame is one of the best frames from the upper deep of Hive-1's honey reserves, most were completely empty. Just 4 weeks ago, these were completely full.
Going downstairs to the brood chamber revealed frames like this. Most were just empty and a few had some pollen and we saw only about a few dozen cells with capped brood, no eggs, no larvae, just empty cells. Are they queenless?
Hive 2 wasn't doing much better. We found most of the frames empty and in the uppermost chamber there were just four frames at the far north end of the hive that still had capped honey like this one. Since they seldom venture to the north end of the hive during the worst of winter, I decided to move these 4 frames with the honey closer to the middle of the upper chamber.
Hive 2's brood chamber was also mostly empty now. Like hive 1, we saw a few cells with some pollen and just a few cells with capped brood, but no eggs, no larvae and very little honey. We couldn't find the queens today from either hive. Hive 1 was quite agitated and we ended up having to put our gloves on in the mayhem, which made it a bit hard to snap some pictures.
In our panic, we decided they urgently needed some food. After we closed up the hives I went back and returned with 8-10 partially capped frames we didn't harvest from September. Most had open cells of nectar and a few were partially capped with honey. I set these about leaning against the hives for feeding and they were all over them in just a few minutes. They were having a feeding frenzy the rest of the afternoon. We have a bit more unprocessed honey we will try to feed them tomorrow, but if they are really queenless, it probably won't help.
These bees were so good to us this past season with the tremendous production and now it looks like something has gone terribly wrong. We hope they find a way to make it somehow.