Our horizontal hive had a lot of action as it got warmer - plenty of bees coming and going and hanging around outside. From the back window, I could see that the cluster was not too far away from where they started in the fall. I figured that meant they had plenty of stores left as they moved through the hive.
The lang was almost silent, so I was a bit worried about them. So, I put my ear against the hive and gave it a good knock, knock. Instant hum. There were bees in there - in the top box. Since they started in the bottom box, that meant that they might be moving through their stores pretty fast.
A note here: An experienced beek can lift the hive and know by weight how much honey is left. I am not an experienced beek. For the record, I did lift, and they were heavy - because I'm a girl and I have no upper body strength. I need to lift them in the fall to get used to how heavy they are full. Eric lifted and said they did feel lighter.
Since we have a couple more months before the maples start blooming here, I decided to open the hives to make sure they had enough stores. I prepped some candy for the lang since I figured they'd need food for sure. I figured the horizontal was just fine.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I pulled a few frames from the other side and they were completely empty. The lang was on its last stores. They would have probably starved within a very short time without intervention.
I piled the broken sugar bricks right on top of the frames.
The bees went to them right away.
We put an empty super to surround it, then laid some paper along the side and poured in some extra dry sugar, too.
[Let me just insert here that short pencils are the bane of my existence. Not that I'm exaggerating or anything. I never exaggerate. Short pencils hide in the pencil jar and are too short to reach, but make it hard to stuff other pencils in there. Also, when all the real pencils are mysteriously gone from the jar, and I have to fish out and use one of the stubby ones, invariably they have No Eraser. Or it's totally dried up and hard and leaves dark marks on the paper. I hate that. But now I have a reason to save short pencils. They are perfect, perfect! for the corners of the hive in winter when I want to keep the top up just a bit.]
Then we put the telescoping lid back on and crossed our fingers that they'd last till late February when the maples bloom. If we get a few more warm days between now and then [and we will] we can pop the top and add more sugar if we need to.
The Horizontal Hive
We have some sick bees in the horizontal hive.
All that action I had been seeing was probably bees leaving for cleansing flights - running to the toilet, as it were.
I pulled the end frames where I expected the cluster to head next and they were already empty. The cluster was moving the opposite direction from where I thought they'd started. Now they were moving back toward the brood frames they'd used last year.
At any rate a few frames like that is not enough stores to get them through the winter.
In this pic, the super to the left has empty frames in it. The bees won't bother them and it was a handy place to store them for the winter.
I put pencils in the corners and the telescoping lid right on top of the new supers.
If I had known what I was doing that day, I should have put a divider in the hive to reduce the size of the chamber, thus reducing the size of the space they needed to heat. It would have turned the hive body into a nuc sized hive. That might have given them a better chance.
When the temps rise again, we'll go inspect again and make sure that the lang has enough sugar and if the horizontal hive is still alive, I'll reduce the chamber size.