My pink hive [the last remaining one from last year] is doing well enough. I opened the top and the cluster is not very big, but it is very vigorous. And kind of defensive. They have plenty of sugar left and I put a pollen patty in to help get them geared up for the season. I see buds on the silver maple. It won't be too many weeks before the early spring flow starts.
I over wintered this hive with a vented quilt box. Here's how it went from top to bottom:
- telescoping cover
- inner cover with notch down and open to quilt box.
- 3 inch quilt box shim with screened bottom full of cedar shavings AND construction shim/wedges on top on one end for good ventilation between it and the inner cover. That tilted the lids a bit, but no problem.
- 2 inch shim for winter sugar
- medium super with honey
- deep super with brood
- solid bottom board with lower entrance only
The combination of things seems to have worked. It was not a large hive in the fall, but they were interesting and hard working. This is the hive that requeened with 27 emergency queen cells in August. I tried to do splits but almost every split absconded back home with the honey stores, which they put back in the mother hive in a super I had set on the hive ABOVE an inner cover that completely separated it from the brood box below. I had been trying to reduce the space for the remaining part of the colony left from the splits since we were in the thick of robbing season. Apparently they didn't want things that way. I recombined everyone and prayed a lot.
I hope this bodes well for my beekeeping this year. I have a good feeling about these girls. I'm hoping to get a lot of honey out of them this year. And a nuc with these behaviors would be awesome.
In a few weeks, I'll reverse the boxes, putting the cluster and brood, which is now in the top box, on the bottom and I'll add a medium super above. We're switching out to only mediums from now on.