Looks like my bees are dead.
We had some cold spells this winter. One lasted about a week and a half with lows around 4 to 5 F and highs in the high teens to low 20’s F in December. I have a TBH so no good way I know of to top feed. I didn’t think adding syrup would do much good if it was too cold for them to move to it, and I didn’t want to open the hive in that cold weather anyway, so just waited.
We finally got some days with temp’s in the high 50’s F in late January and on each one I anxiously checked for signs of bees making cleansing flights… but not a bee in sight. On a couple different warm days I went out and rapped hard on the hive… nothing. They are dead. darn, they looked strong last fall, had comb on about 26 bars…
It is warm today, so I decided I should clean out the dead bees so they wouldn’t mold. I removed the lid and lifted some top bars near the back…wait! Is that buzzing?! It is, isn’t it?! Aww, I’m just hearing things…then some bees flew out from the combs into the back of the hive, they are alive!!!!! I quickly replaced the top bars and went to the house to get some sugar. I dumped about 4 cups in on the floor of the hive and closed it back up. I don’t know if it will do any good, but felt nothing to lose doing it, and it was windy today so I didn’t want to open it later to give them sugar syrup. Bad weather is forecast for the next few days, but then we get another spate of warm weather. I’ll give them a couple qts of syrup then.
Boy, those top bars were sure in there tight, must have swelled with the moisture this winter. I wonder why the bees haven’t been making cleansing flights? Light bulb! I bet the hive entrance is closed off due to swelling of the top bars. I re-opened it and sure enough, only about 1/8 inch clearance at the front. So I removed a narrower “spacer bar” I had at the back and started prying and sliding all the bars back. Bees pouring out now! I got a half inch clearance at the front, then brushed off the bees and closed the hive up. There’s lots of activity at the front entrance now! Those poor girls were probably about to burst! I put a pail of water near the entrance with some landing blocks in it. There seemed to be quite a bit of honey in the combs, so maybe I don’t need to feed, but can’t hurt, right? I’ll add some spacer blocks at the front too, so the top bars can’t close off the entrance again. Sure is good to see those girls flying again!