Okay, y'all. Here we go. Spring is busting out here in Tennessee and the weather was finally fine enough for me to pop the hives open this week and take a peek. We had super cold temps in January a long with everyone else. Five degrees and several days when the mercury doesn't rise above freezing are pretty unusual for us so I was a bit concerned about how the girls were faring. On the other hand I wishing an icy death to all the pests that plague them. February brought record rainfall. Of the 28 days in the month it rained 21 of them! We broke a rain record set in 1948.
Enough with the weather report (being a beekeeper means I pay more attention to the weather than a normal person). Let's look at the bees!
In the photo above you can see a gorgeous brood pattern. Each of those little brown circles is a capped brood cell which means they contain baby bees! This is the thing that makes a beekeeper's heart go pitty pat, or buzz, buzz or something. Anyway it's a very good sign.
When I opened this hive I noticed that the outer cover was rotten and needs to be replaced. Flaky wood is just the kind of place the dreaded small hive beetles would love for a hiding spot.
More bees and beautiful capped brood. The stuff on top is called burr comb and will get cleaned off when I do more thorough inspections.
The one dead hive had two small clumps of bees on the frame so I think the cluster was just too small to generate enough heat to stay warm and they froze during a sudden cold snap too far away from their food source. I'm starting this season with 5 healthy looking hives and enough extra equipment on hand to make splits if the bees build up and look swarmy as the weather warms.