So I finally got out to inspect my hives properly for the first time this season on the weekend! My hives are a bit of a hike from where I'm located so I had to make it on a weekend and the weather hasn't been playing ball with me too much lately!
I have to admit I was a little shocked! the weather this year seems to have really messed with them on several fronts - firstly it seems to have messed with the flowering of forage, secondly it seems to have stimulated the queen to lay but then the cold snaps have caused them to eat their pollen stores that they had built up and without any additional stores to back it up it's hit their populations pretty hard - have others seen a similar thing? it probably explains why the swarms have been quite slow to start this year...
Also, I took my hives through winter as doubles - four weeks ago when I lifted them they were chockers with stores and almost all of them had full boxes of honey on them. Four weeks later there's still a lot of honey but I noticed on a few hives that it seems there wasn't sufficient population to ripen the nectar they'd bought in and this has caused some fermentation - one hive it appears it was severe enough that it might have caused them to abscond (or it might have been the mouse that seemed to have been in there - not sure). I did notice some SHB in a few of my hives but i didn't see any more than 7 or so (obviously something needs to be done about them though). Do you need a major infestation to cause your honey to go bad? Also, can fermented honey be fed back to bees or is it something that should be extracted and discarded? Also, I noticed, and I'm guessing this is due to the wetter weather and the low population, that some of the frames of capped honey have mould on them - should I avoid extracting any frames that have mould? should i set them aside and put them on my strong hives and allow them to clean it up and then extract?
Right now i've reduced all of my hives (except two strong ones) down to singles to give them an opportunity to build up and also so they have less space to keep warm/defend against SHB - the cape weed has, finally, started flowering in abindance so i expect that they will build up pretty quickly on that!
Thoughts and advice much appreciated..