We have very good news this year: Our bees have finally made it through a winter and it looks like it’s a strong hive. This hive did really well last summer, but it was one of two new packages we installed last April. This means that the bees use all their energy and time to build comb, so we missed the Spring honey flow. This is always the major flow of the season. We ran into trouble right away with our second new hive last year. The queen was DOA. A second queen was shipped in from Georgia overnight, and we installed her, but she wasn’t a strong queen. That hive died around mid-summer.
But there was still hope for our first hive. The first year we did bees, we got 30 lbs of honey. With one of the hottest summers in a long time, the late flow was not very good. Our bees managed to collect enough stores to survive the winter, but there was nothing extra for us. We learned in October when we visited the Topsfield Fair Bee building, that most of the honey produced around here last year came from that early Spring flow with very little honey produced after the Spring flow.
Last fall, we decided not to wrap our hive, but instead put an extra empty super on top which we stuffed with hay. We also stuffed hay underneath the box. This seemed to keep the bees insulated but dry. It’s not cold that kills the bees, it’s the moisture. So we’ll definitely try that again.
We’re getting a new box of bees on Friday so we will have a second hive. More photos of that will follow!