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== 2012 ==
== 2012 ==
=== May 27 - Three new supers===
=== May 27 - Three new supers===
Today we (Dad and I) put on three new supers. The bees were very busy today. The top bar hive is doing very well.
Today we (Dad and I) put on three new supers. The bees were very busy today. The top bar hive is doing very well.
Revision as of 09:42, 9 July 2012
July 8 - Swapping drone frames
It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I haven't had nearly the time I wanted to get into the hives. Finally skipped dinner on Sunday night to swap out the drone frames. (I don't want to varroa-bomb the hives again this year.) The bees were a little cranky with being worked so late. But I have yet more honey on. We're in the middle of the June drought, though. It may take a while for the final capping to get done.
June 24 - Harvest Day
Pulled supers this weekend. I had company on Saturday when I put in the escape boards - neighbors from the next street over. They were very interested but young so I gave the kids (and parents) all my "armor". Worked the hives in shorts and a veil. It worked remarkably well until I got stung on one thigh. The bees were awfully interested in that area afterward, even with smoke. One bee decided that she had to investigate this strange new place. I first noticed her crawling up the inside of my left pant leg. Thought I got her out but then noticed a tickle higher up. And higher. And higher. And finally down the right pant leg. She got out all right. That was a bit more excitement than I'd planned on, though. I need to either invest in tighter clothes or more duct tape.
Pulled 5 supers. Several more still on - not quite read to harvest.
May 27 - Three new supers
Today we (Dad and I) put on three new supers. The bees were very busy today. The top bar hive is doing very well.
May 12 - Queen cells everywhere
I found multiple queen cells in every hive. Most looked like healthy supercedure cells (that is, hanging at the bottom and between frames, not off the face of the frame). I've given them lots and lots of space but I keep getting more brood - for all the work they're doing, there's not much honey yet.
April 27 - swarms are coming
Snuck out late this afternoon and it's a good thing I did. Last time I was in the hive, I put a super on each hive and a queen excluder on the strongest one (the south hive). Opened that hive today to discover a beautiful brood pattern, hundreds of drones and queen cells everywhere. I must have trapped the queen above the excluder. I moved that box to the bottom of the stack and added two empty supers at the top. Now to cross my fingers.
The middle hive is the one I split from to repopulate the top-bar experiment. They're doing fine - not stuffed to the gills but fine.
The north hive was also packed to overflowing with the queen laying up in the super. That one didn't have a queen excluder, though, so they had brood lower, too. Added two more supers with newspaper between to slow them down a bit.
This is a year to be in the package/nuke business.
April 7 - Drones, drones and more drones
I left the drone frames in last fall. I don't usually do that but I'm really glad I did. They were packed and hatching out rapidly. Hope I don't have too much varroa because if I did, I've bombed the hives again.
All three colonies were really busy. A decent amount of brood but lots of drone. Doesn't look like a laying worker but maybe the leftovers after a swarm? All three colonies had some queen cups but nothing fully developed. I think that maybe they're okay.
Dandelions are blooming so it seemed like time to pull the feeders. I did a little reversing to consolidate the brood nest some. Other than that, it was a general maintenance day. Lots of burr comb to clean up.
March 16 - more feed
Unseasonably warm. All three colonies flying strong. Mixed up and put on another 20 lbs of sugar water or so. It's way too early for dandelion and even though everything else seems to be blooming at once, a single cold snap could do us in.
February - moldy feeders
Pulled and cleaned the hive top feeders. It took a few weekends to get everything done. Probably chilled some bees in the process. One looked strong but that could just mean they're closer to the top. The other two were very quiet.
January - still alive
... but not much to add. Don't want to disturb them.
23 Oct - Twenty pounds of sugar, wasted
Two days ago, I put on hive top feeders and spread about 24 lbs of honey across the three hives - one using the "emergency feeder" design, two store-bought feeders, so the split was about 4, 10 and 10. I came home from a camping trip this weekend and found the bees in a tizzy - robbing out any little sugar source near the house and tormenting the dog. (He tries to eat them, though, so I consider it a fair fight.) When I walked into the yard, I saw huge clusters around the top of two hives and bees flying everywhere. Somehow when I filled up the two store-bought feeders, I didn't get the lids on level. They were robbing each other out like crazy.
I wasn't going anywhere near them in that condition so I waited until night when the cold would force most of them inside and went out the clean up. About a quart of dead bees in the bottoms of the feeders and no sugar water at all. I must have had bees from several townships coming for the bonanza. It was awful.
I cleaned out the dead bees as best I could, shooed the few living back near where they might still be able to crawl into the hive and refilled the feeders. The "emergency feeder" hive (with a correctly placed lid) is apparently doing fine. Most of the original sugar water is still there. That'll teach me.
8 Oct - A harvest, such as it is
Hard to believe how long it's been since I posted anything here. It was a largely uneventful summer, at least for my bees. I got no spring harvest and barely got a fall harvest - and only that because my attempts to rebuild the top-bar hive failed. They drew out the frames but instead of filling them with brood and eggs, they put honey in. I pulled about 35 lbs of comb honey at the end of the year - some usable as chunk, the rest squeezed down for the honey. And let me tell you, that is a messy job. Perfect for kids, though.
I did see a small hive beetle again. Looks like this spring's work either didn't take or didn't prevent a reintroduction. Crossing my fingers for winter.
Almost forgot - I also pulled my "swarm box" last week - a box with frames and a clip-on bottom board and lid. It's a really cool design. It's apparently also a perfect design for wax moths. I've never had an infestation like that. They tore into everything. They dug into the wood, too. Getting them out was a real pain. I sacrificed the frames, scraped everything clean and then stuck the whole thing into a chest freezer for a week just to make sure. Uhg.
17 July - Walk-away split
Well, it's official. Any hope of a spring/summer harvest is over in our part of the country and I have zero honey to show for it. Still, the bees are alive - I should be grateful for small favors. Sean's package is well-established with all frames well populated and several frames of honey and/or nectar. It's a long shot but we put a super on just in case (more as prep for fall, really).
The other survivor is also doing well enough. I had been planning to split them to repopulate the top-bar hive but haven't been able to get brood raised in the free comb so I finally gave in and split them conventionally. I used the "walk-away" method - the top brood chamber became the bottom chamber of the new hive. Both got a new box of drawn comb (empty) and I don't have a clue which has the queen. If I read the frames right, though, both have enough eggs and young brood that whoever's missing the queen will be able to raise a replacement fairly quickly.
I haven't set the splits up with feed yet. Going to wait a few days to see it that's really necessary.
20 June - Killed off a hive
There are days when I question my abilities as a beekeeper. And then there are days where I have no doubt that I should be doing something different.
Yesterday started off well. The first colony I checked was doing okay. No honey to speak of but a strong colony with lots of visible brood. And the queen is finally laying some eggs in the top-bar frames that I dropped in there a few weeks ago. They look like drone cells but the fact that the queen's finally found the frame makes me hopeful that I'll be able to make a split sometime this summer and restart to top-bar experiment.
The second hive was not so successful. Again, no honey crop at all. When I lifted the one empty super out of the way, I saw a large, red, winged something duck down between the frames. Wanting to see it better, I popped and tilted the top brood box. Nothing - it got away down into the bottom brood box. Putting the box back, I realized that I'd managed to dump the oil from my two Small Hive Beetle traps all down through the frames, killing at least dozens maybe hundreds of bees. Cursing myself for my inattention and clumsiness, I started to mop up the oil as best I could. As long as I was there, I pulled the drone brood frames to see if they needed to be swapped out (part of my varroa control). No capped brood but I did see a good pattern of eggs. Then I looked closer and realized that there were multiple eggs per cell. I have a laying worker. I confirmed this during disassembly of the whole hive - no worker brood anywhere. Also no recent queen cells that might indicate that this was a new queen. (A newly mated queen can sometimes lay multiple eggs in a cell until she gets her own reproductive system in order.)
I've never heard any good reports of the remediation of a hive once a laying worker takes over so I started to pull the usable frames of honey and pollen, thinking that perhaps they can be used to kick-start a new colony - or maybe make up my sole harvest this year - and then it started to rain. I finished disassembling the colony in lightning and pouring rain. On the downside, rain makes your beesuit stick to your skin so it's little protection from stings. On the upside, the rain soaked their wings so it was really only the ones crawling up my legs that should have worried me. I suppose the laying worker problem should also make me feel a little less guilty about spilling the oil all over them. I still feel like a klutz, though. It is making me seriously reconsider that control mechanism.
I did finally find that red, winged bug. Some sort of roach. Rather pretty in a way.
12 May - Nematodes
The Small Hive Beetles continue to worry me. The weather's been too bad to get into the hives for inspection but I want to do something. Southeastern Insectiaries sells a parasitic nematode that attacks SHB. $31 (including shipping) got 5 million nematodes in a ziploc baggie - enough for ten hives they say. The nematodes attack the SHB during the pupal stage of their lives when they are living in the ground outside the hive.
Application was very easy. I just washed the nematodes off the shipping gel into a strainer, then added enough water for the recommended 5 gallons and sprinkled it around the hives. I had enough to split with a neighbor, so hopefully this will bring the infestation under control. Now let's just hope the weather breaks.
29 Apr - Reversed
I reversed the hive boxes this evening. In the past, I've not so much reversed as split the brood. Let's hope I waited long enough that they were all at the top finally. Both boxes still have a fair amount of capped honey from fall plus new from either the feeder or dandelion. I took off the last feeder today.
I also put in some Beetle Blaster traps. (Thank you, Molly.) My mistake with the last set was leaving them up top. Great under normal conditions but useless when you're then putting a flat-bottomed hivetop feeder on top of them. The bees (and beetles) could get up only at the narrow point where they cross into the feeder. Let's hope the traps are more successful now that there's some access.
Paul was a big help. Tim came over to check things out and got his first sting, right on the nose.
23 Apr - Small Hive Beetles
Beautiful weather today. Also the first day of dandelion bloom up here.
I cracked open both survivors to see how they are doing. Both have plenty of stores still in the box and lots of pollen coming in. Not all that much brood and no eggs in the few frames I checked but I deliberately didn't want to rip everything apart today. I did see a lot of small hive beetles, though. They were running across the tops, ducking in and out of empty cells and generally making a nuisance of themselves. No signs of damage to the comb so maybe the problem is still manageable but it's definitely time to get some traps in. Probably past time...
12 Apr - Down to 2
The weather was beautiful today and the bees were flying. Enough to confirm that my two Russian-mutt colonies made it through the winter and my son's Italian hybrid did not. If the weather holds till weekend, I hope to get enough warmth to make a split.
18 Mar - They are ALIVE!!!
Actually, the title pretty much says it. A few fliers and a few feeders at each colony. They survived the winter after all.
13 Mar - All quiet
All three hives are quiet this morning. Too quiet, perhaps. All three still have hivetop feeders on from fall and all still have at least a little syrup in the bottoms (and not at all moldy). No bees feeding, though. If the temperature rises enough, I'll actually check inside the supers but that may be more autopsy than help. Things are not hopeful at the Rossander apiary.
Unseasonably warm today. A few girls flying at each hive but not many. All the feeders have at least 1/2 inch left. Don' know if there are really any bees left in there but I'm afraid to check. Can't do much until Springtime anyway. Crossing my fingers...
Listened to the sides of all 3 hives and heard lots of buzzing! Good news as the weather had been so variable.
My mom added three more pounds of sugar to my hive. Sean Rossander
I had visitors and we showed them about the hive beetle traps. I also made some more sugar water. Sean Rossander
Went out this evening to see if the little homemade feeder was empty. It was. To my amazement, both the full-size feeders are dry, too. Made up another 30 lbs (dry weight) this evening and put it on the hives in the same distribution.
Naturally now that I've started feeding, the hives finally have a strong smell of goldenrod. Oh well, I'll just have to leave it for them this year.
It's been a crazy fall. After pulling the Mite-Away, I re-supered the two strong hives in hopes of getting a fall flow. By late September, I realized that was a lost cause. The girls just weren't pulling in much honey and what they did bring in went straight to the brood chamber.
Finally had a sunny day on Sat to pull the supers and put on the feeders. I checked the Small Hive Beetle traps at the same time. About the same number of trapped beetles. Also found 1 dead SHB in a super. Maybe the infestation is under control. I'm leaving the traps on through the winter anyway.
Sean & Paul helped me mix up 30 lbs of sugar water (dry weight). The strongest hive has to make do with my homemade feeder so they only got about 2 lbs of sugar. The other two have BeeMax feeders so they could split the remainder at about 14 lbs each.
I messed up my drone brood trapping this summer. Lost track a few weeks ago and didn't get the frames pulled in time. Instead of culling the mites, I ended up incubating them. The infestation in two of the hives was high. I also started seeing small hive beetles in at least one hive. They didn't run very fast but the shape and size were distinctive.
So this weekend, I finally broke down and admitted that I'll have to treat. I put on Mite-Away II per the label instructions. Naturally, the temperature the next day exceeded the allowable range, but I'm stuck at work. The poor bees will have to survive as best they can.
Also put two of the BeetleBlaster traps in each top box.
Checked the Small Hive Beetle traps at the same time I pulled the Mite-Away. About a dozen in each trap. Enough to show that I have a problem but not enough to start panicking yet.
Pulled an early harvest. Very light with a good flavor.
The bees are going gang-busters. What a great spring for bees. I've already got several fully capped supers and more that are heavy with nectar.
I put up some decorative barriers this season. Took some copper tubing and sewed it into some large sheets of window-screen to create panels that now lean up against the beehives and reach to the shed. My hives sit about 2' west of a garden shed with the entrances facing the shed wall. I'd originally hoped that bees going east would have to go up and over the shed and bees going west would have to go up and over the hive itself. And some shrubs a few feet away would gradually help on the north and south flight-paths. The bees were smarter than me, though, and were going around the hives rather than over them. The screens block the gaps that had been at the north and south ends (and one between the hives) and get the bees above head height more quickly. There's still a gap at the side where the telescoping cover pushes out but for the most part, it does seem to be diverting the bees up.
Since last post, I've swapped drone frames several times, split my strongest hive (see the "Adventures with a Top-Bar Hive" thread) and added a super to each colony. One is almost filled - the other two a little slower. The weather has turned, though. Cold and rain just as the locust bloom starts.
Swapped drone frames today. The two end hives looked clean and strong. The middle hive had varroa mites visible on the drone frame. Have to guess that their infestation rate is high. All three were putting on lots of burr comb so I added a super.
Added an empty super with the new top-bars today. Hoping they will draw out some comb and maybe even put in some honey so the new colony can get a strong start. (See the "Adventures with a Top-Bar Hive" thread.)
Got into all three hives today to install the drone frames. Weather was in the high 40s but dry. Tried to swap brood bodies but the cluster is crossing the two boxes right now. (Swapped the first hive before I figured it out. Hope I didn't hurt them too much.) Tons of burr comb to clean out but otherwise healthy colonies. The ones in the middle are looking a little weaker than the others. They were the only ones with dead bees still on the bottom board.
All three colonies came through the winter and were flying today. Beautiful pattern of voiding flights on the snow. (Okay, not really "beautiful" per se - but they're alive!) Refilled the hivetop feeders with 1:2 syrup. Stung in the ear canal for my troubles. My fault for not wearing a veil.
Well, we put more sugar syrup on this afternoon as they are drinking the feeders dry. Some out flying in the sunshine but it is still chilly. The improvised feeder made from the angel food cake pan and soda bottle works great.
I haven't posted here in months. It's sad how much better my recordkeeping is in the spring. Let's see if I can get caught up. August was very slow. I got in the hives several times and the bees seemed healthy. My concern in the last post about the laying worker was apparently unfounded. The colony is doing fine now. No significant forage, though. They were flying a lot but never putting on weight.
Starting about September, we caught a flow. The smell of curing goldenrod was almost overpowering. They have been incredibly busy but are putting everything in the deeps, not the honey supers. The smell tapered off this past weekend so we may be done for the year already, though they are still flying strong and bringing in lots of bright orange pollen. If I get one box of fall honey, I'll count myself lucky.
Pulled all the drone frames a week ago. I've been spot-checking the drone brood when I swap the frames each time. Haven't seen a varroa on a drone brood all summer. Either my mite load is low or my sample size is too small. Despite reports of small hive beetle in our area, I haven't found any yet.
I've been in the hives a few times and getting more confused every time. The captured swarm is doing great. Lots of bees, lots of brood and packing honey away like nobody's business. The new package is still a little slower than I'd like but they have finally filled out enough frames in the top box that it seemed safe to take off the feeder. (It was getting a little gross so I'm hoping this is a good time to clean it.)
The middle hive, the heros from last year, still have loads of bees, but way more drones than I think they should and no visible stores. Essentially unchanged from a month ago. No brood or eggs visible either, though I'll admit that I didn't check very thoroughly. If they are making a comeback, I don't want to disturb it. Hypotheses:
- A virgin queen is in the hive but she's either hiding in the bottom box or just slow.
- I have a laying worker.
Neither hypothesis fully fits the facts. If it were a laying worker, I'd expect to see cells with multiple or misplaced eggs. I'd also expect to see the drone population rising sharply. There are many drones but the ratio is not increasing. If a virgin queen, well, the foragers should be more busy and I should have seen at least some stores... At this point, I think I'm going to leave them alone and see what happens.
In other news, the honey I took off a few weeks ago was crystallizing in the comb. It was a bear to extract and is already recrystallizing in the jars. Very tasty, though.
A busy day today. I had some guests over who are thinking about taking up beekeeping. In a fit of machismo, I gave them all my protective gear (except a veil) and worked in shorts and without gloves. It turned into a longer session than I'd planned (see below) and I stressed the bees more than I'd have liked. They expressed their frustration on my exposed flesh. I haven't taken a total venom load like that since, well, maybe ever. No bad swelling, though, so maybe I'm finally developing a tolerance.
My captured swarm and new package are both doing fairly well. The swarm queen is laying very nicely and the bees are bringing in a little surplus honey. The package bees are finally drawing out some real wax and have finished off the sugar-water I gave them. Unfortunately, my hero colony - the ones that put on two full supers so early - appear to be dying. Lots of bees but no brood or eggs that I could find. I'm afraid that my last time in I might have killed the queen. And given where they were in the swarm cycles, they might not have been able to raise a replacement. Stole two frames of mostly eggs from the captured swarm and reseeded them back into the parent colony. We'll see if that helps.
In the meantime, I need to get the honey off or they'll just raid the stores. They've already cleaned out pretty much everything in the brood boxes. Oh well, Margie had lots of people who wanted to see an extraction anyway...
Lost a second afterswarm today. This one, I saw (believe it or not, the first I've seen in the air). It looked pretty puny - a thousand bees, maybe less. They also headed up and east and out of sight.
I finally had time to get into the hives to see what was going on. The swarm I reboxed last week (see the 4 Jun entry above) have visible eggs on a bunch of frames so I think they're doing well. I removed the entrance reducer and left them alone.
The package I put in last month is still straggling along. A couple of partial frames of capped brood and more drone and queen cells than I would have liked but still lots of undrawn foundation. I swapped out two frames of capped brood from the middle hive to try to beef them up. If it takes (and hopefully I'll know in a few days), I'll finally have to put on the second deep.
The middle hive is clearly the source of all the swarms. They have already filled two mediums with honey and have a third almost ready to cap. They're just plain running out of space. I put a fourth super on today. I also reversed the two deeps, hoping that might disrupt their swarming behavior. Between that and losing two frames of brood (and some of the excess queen cells), maybe they'll finally stay put. Too bad I couldn't have gotten in there last week and maybe prevented all this...
I lost an after-swarm today. Margie saw them fly out but they headed up and east before settling. No way to know where they went to. Hope they make it.
Well, I missed my window. The Italians swarmed today. They took up temporary residence in a bush on the property line. The old Russian hive was empty except for some robbing bees so I cleaned that out and rehived the swarm. Margie might have pictures up at www.rossander.org/gallery soon. Everyone seems happy in the new box. We'll see if they can get things cleared out and started up.
The Italians are still exploding. They've almost filled two supers already. Put a third on just in case they need the space.
The new package bees are still muddling along. I saw about two palm-sized patches of capped brood and about the same of eggs or small larvae but their weight is holding steady at 59.0 lbs (including equipment and the hive top feeder). That's been constant for almost 2 weeks now. I've checked the scale - they're just not growing.
The older Russians, last year's heros, are just about dead. Maybe a thousand bees in the bottom box but no brood or eggs visible. Didn't check every frame, though. Maybe I should cross-level some bees or brood from the Italians over...
Got home a few minutes early and decided to look in on the hives. The new package has been lost several pounds since installation but is now holding steady. A fair amount of capped brood visible, though, so hopefully they will start to ramp up soon.
The established Russian colony is poking along. Several frames of capped brood but they're still in the bottom deep and have not yet started to fill the top on. No need to super for a while yet. The Italian colony, on the other hand, is going gangbusters. They've almost filled their second super already. Might have to put a third on after the holiday weekend. I had been using a queen excluder on that hive. It certainly didn't slow them down any, though it did lead to a lot of burr comb. Took the excluder off and we'll see what happens...
The Italians also had the drone frames filled again. I wasn't expecting to have to swap them out tonight and had to pull my spares out of the freezer at the last minute. Before putting the frames back in the freezer, I checked for mites. (Take the uncapping fork and run it into the tops of a patch of cells at the edge of the frame then gently lift, tearing the tops off the cells and pulling out some of the drone brood with their heads trapped between the tines.) Zero mites seen. I think I'm in my fifth year with nothing for mites except drone brood trapping. It seems to be working, at least for me.
Added about 10 lbs of syrup in a hive top feeder. The car windshield is yellow with pollen. It seems like everything is blooming right now. Spring has been very sudden this year.
Removed the queen cage from the new colony today. The bees are still very gentle. They hadn't taken much out of the syrup can but that might be because the holes were so small.
They also weren't drawing much comb. I think I made a mistake when I set them up - I gave them two full frames of capped honey (and several partials) as a head-start. Because it was capped, I don't think they felt much incentive to actually do anything with it. So I pulled both frames and scraped the caps off today. It turns out that a lot of the honey underneath was pretty crystallized. Uncapping it should force them to work the cells a bit more and maybe get more cleaned up and spread out (which also should stimulate some wax production). Now I just have to hope that I didn't drown the queen or too many of the workers with all the oozing honey that went back into the hive.
Got the new package installed today. The bees were very gentle and went into their new home with no trouble at all.
The rest of the pictures of the whole process are here. The boys were a big help.
Finally had the time to really get into the hives on a nice day. Both colonies have basically one full deep of remaining honey, brood and pollen. The bottom deeps were empty so I reversed them, only swapping a few frames so the drone frames stay up top. Only had a little burr comb to clean off and almost no debris on the bottom boards. The italians already had a frame of drones filled and mostly capped. I swapped that frame for freezing. Some evidence of queen cups in both colonies but not sure if it's enough to suggest possible swarming. I'm hoping the reversal will slow them down.
Setting up a third hive this year. This one will be mounted on a feedscale for measurement as it grows. I'm not yet sure where I'll be able to post the results but the starting weight (top and bottom board, one deep with plastic foundation) is 23 #. If the weather holds, the bees should come on Monday.
Well, the bees were coming in loaded with pollen so things are gearing up. More rain coming later though.
A sunny day and the bees were flying. Over the past few days, we've seen several bees at the crocuses and snowdrops in the front yard. The italians were out in force, returning with pollen baskets of tan or very light yellow. The russians were sending out a few cleansing/orienting flights but not much else. We also found several bees on the sidewalk who had flown their last. The winter bees are running out.
I put another 5 lbs of sugar (1:2) in the feeder for the italians a few days ago. The russians still had about a 1/2 inch from fall. As long as the weather doesn't go crazy on us, things are looking okay.
Well, it was 60 degrees and sunny this afternoon and both hives were active. Yeah!
Very high winds last night. It flipped the hive tops right off despite two heavy rocks and a reasonably sheltered location. Luckily, I still had hive-top feeders on with about an inch of feed. They stayed in place and protected the rest of the hive.
No sound or movement when I went out to put the tops back in place. It was cold and rainy so maybe that's okay but I can't help worrying about them. Still waiting for spring.
2009 Feb 05
OK... now we have 21" of snow on the hives and I'm hoping for spring to arrive sooner than the 6 weeks Punxy Phil predicts. At least I am selling lots of honey since the recent news articles on its health benefits.
35F and sunny with knee-deep snow still on the ground. Lots of dead bees on the landing board and some on the snow in front of the hive. They must have found a warm spell in the past day or so to take some cleansing flights and do a little housekeeping. The groundhog saw his shadow, though, so we have a lot of winter yet to go. Still hoping...
I have two hives in my backyard (western Cuyahoga County). It's cold, cold, cold. It got above freezing for a few hours on Saturday but mostly the temperature has been in the teens (F). The colonies have about 16 inches of snow on top but are sitting high enough that entrances are mostly clear. They went into winter with good stores, I think, but the cold spell has been so long that I have no idea how they're doing. I keep thinking I should go out and put a stethoscope to the hive but frankly it's too cold. Nothing I could do right now if they're dead anyway. Watiting for spring - or at least for a short break in the weather.