Today was our first opportunity to see our bees since last October. We also wanted to move them out to a new location. We'd been borrowing space from a generous beekeeper friend while we secured a location of our own.
As they were a rather heavy strong colony going into winter, I expected them to make it through. I had, however, spent a good deal of time worrying that the normal buildup of dead winter bees or snow may have blocked off the small winter entrances I had left them causing the trapped bees to suffocate. I left them a few openings of about (~6.5-7mm)
I didn't hear any buzzing through the thick walls, but a look in the observation widow in the top box showed bees running around out of cluster despite the cool and wet weather. The high for the day was 7 degrees celcius. Hooray they survived!
The hive still had a fairly reasonable weight, the bottom box was light, and though I could lift the top two boxes on my own, it was not with great ease. Most, but not all, of what little comb I caught a peak of, had been uncapped. With cool temptrature and rain in the forcast for weeks it does make me wonder if they will need extra food before the flowers start to flow.
Next we prepared the move. We ran a wire between the first and second box to separate the comb and quickly placed screened boards between them. A few bees came out from the bottom box to show their disapproval with this intrusion. A little different than the calm relaxed disposition they displayed all the previous summer. Another screened board on top, duct tape to seal any gaps and then we used ratchet straps to keep the different hive sections tight together.
We loaded them into the back with combs facing parallel the wheels, and slightly propped up the two box stack with the vent board on the bottom for a little extra ventilation for the bees.
For some reason the bottom box had many more concerned bees coming up to the vent holes. Perhaps there were more bees in that box? Maybe the queen was in the other boxes and they were more distressed?
Just as we were ready to unload a heavy downpour commenced. Our car subsequently got stuck in the muddy road. Bees tend to be in the hive on days like this, but there are certainly drawbacks to hive work on rainy days. Sun is certainly our preference.
After a little waiting we had them set up in their new home:
We mistakenly rotated the orientation of the top two boxed in regards to the bottom box 180 degrees. 🙁 hope that doesn't confuse them too much. We took out the entrance reducer and tried to scrape out the bottom board. The number of dead bees didn't appear to be excessive. We did observe a fair number of mites in the debris.