Well, we finally lost two hives. We had five. We started last April with two packages of Italians. They swarmed three times, two of the swarms lived, so we ended up with four Italian colonies in Kenyan top bar hives. In August we picked up a swarm of feral bees and housed them in a Warre hive.
We had all five hives up to that last cold snap, which took out the two smallest in the top bar hives. They had stores, so it looks like simple decline in numbers did them in. Sad, sad beekeepers. On the other hand…Ted is able to alter the top bar hives and add screened bottom boards. Also, they don’t need the honey any more, so…we have honey! It is pretty amazing how much honey comes out of a couple of bars. We were impressed. Ted is getting good at crush and strain. Our long suffering neighbors got the second jar, Ted’s mom got the third. We don’t have enough to sell, we’re distributing to the people we promised would get some if we ever got some.
The hives have been flying on every warm day for at least a month. At bee club one night we sat around and meditatively listed the pollen sources we saw coming in our hives. Indian plum (oenotheria)…crocus…dandelion…
I’m just getting one package of bees this spring, Carniolans this time. I plan to house them in foundationless Langstroth. So we’ll have three of the four kinds of bees possible in these parts – we’re not ready for fierce Russians yet – and we will have all three of the foundationless/natural types of hives.