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More Snow!!!

Wow. I spend a good part of the year looking forward to March and April. It’s Beekeeping Nirvana! Not this year, however. March has been a monster. Really cold weather (and often SNOW!) has always been in the forecast. My bees are behind, which is good, because I am behind (I’m always behind, but this year it feels like I am behind a whole month!)

Tomorrow, I had scheduled a Sustainable Beekeeping 201 class, the first in the series of sustainable beekeeping classes for more experienced beekeepers. One of the primary tasks was to create a few Nuc’s in one of my outyards. Since the weather today and tomorrow is supposed to be the same, I planned to use the temperatures today to judge whether we could hold the class (although, when I scheduled this in late February, I thought my main problem would be to find an apiary that still had hives that I had NOT pulled Nuc’s from – right now, that’s pretty much my entire fleet of hives!)  At 11 am, when we would be well into building Nuc’s, it was still in the very low 40’s. Although it could be done at this temperature, I simply didn’t want to risk it. So, we postponed to the ‘bad weather date’ (which is next Saturday – this doesn’t look very promising either, but we’ll see.)

By about 2:30 PM, the temps his 50 and I journeyed out to the Westover Plantation outyard. I had not been through this outyard since February 2 (and that was just a quick inspection – pull the inner cover and a frame or two from the upper supers.)

The best news, of course, is that all of the hives were doing fine. In fact, two of them were really pouring it on. Being close to the river, I have found that these hives typically are ahead of most of my other hives (excluding overwintered Nucs). I could have easily created Medium Nuc’s from two of these hives, but instead created a single Deep Nuc off of each of them. It’s supposed to be wet (maybe with snow) and cold over the next couple of days, so I gave them both an extra shake of honey bees. Medium Nuc’s are tough enough (for me, anyway), so I hope to return in a couple of weeks and get a few Mediums off of this crowd.

Of note, I have still not seen anything to indicate that hives are in swarm mode right now. I will probably regret those words, but I currently believe that there are 2 to 3 weeks before I have to really worry about a hive swarming. Ideally, I will have reduced all of my hives by then (by spawning Nuc’s.)

I want to close on a totally different topic – reversal. That’s the practice of going into your hives in March and moving empty supers (from below) to above. You follow this up, every few weeks, with another reversal. The followers of this practice say that the bees go into swarm mode when they get to the top (as if they don’t have enough sense to realize they have plenty of space below.) I had a large number of hives with empty supers on the bottom this year. I did not reverse one. So far, every single one has done what I expected them to do – built down into the empty super. I honestly do not believe that reversal helps one bit (and probably simply stresses the bees more than anything else.)

Another Casualty and Delays

The weather has really been dealing my Nuc building plans a blow. Although we occasionally get a warm day, it always seems to be shortly followed by several very cold days. Typically, I like to have a week with the temperatures in the mid- to upper 50’s (something that is not at all unusual this time of year, typically.) They’re actually calling for temperatures to dip into the 20’s later this week, for several days. The problem is that this is not a ‘one off’. We continue to have mostly cold and/or wet weather.

For my Nuc Program, this is problematic. I started several Nuc’s in February last year, due to the expectation of a week of good weather. I’ve not had an expectation of a day or two of good weather this whole month. I’ve created a few test Nuc’s off of really strong hives, but the primary program is really getting delayed. I also believe this weather has my bees in a slow build-up pattern. I have a few exceptions that are turning it on, but the vast majority are coming out of Winter very slowly.

It’s not the end of the world, but I usually expect to turn over a bunch of Nuc’s in April (the ones that I start in early/mid-March or before.) This year, I doubt I will even have a Nuc ready in April. The hives seem to be doing fine, but everything is simply getting pushed back. I’ll be interested to find out what some of my colleagues are up to.

I also ran across another dead out. This hive was actually very strong in January. They did not run out of food, although I did see where some robbing had started. I also only found around 80 bees on the bottom board. Clearly, the ones that died did so because of a small cluster (couldn’t keep things warm enough.) This was a yellow queen… At any rate, I am running about a 7% loss at the moment (3 hives lost, 40 fully reviewed in March so far).

The only positive note are the overwintered Nuc’s. I am quite certain that one or all of them will swarm by the end of the month (and they may already be making plans for it.) When I want to feel good, I go check on them! I hope to create a few Nucs off of them next weekend, before dropping them into full Deeps. They are currently sitting in 1 Deep, under 1 Medium. All of them have just about filled the Deep (as of last weekend anyway) – I’m hoping to find them well into the Medium Nuc this coming weekend and split them off.

Requeening

We had a great talk from Keith Tignor at the monthly ERBA meeting last night. He touched on the fact that there have been very high losses in Virginia this past Winter. The primary reason, based on his findings, was the fact that the bees simply stopped raising brood in the Fall. If this is true, it would definitely be the reason for big losses. I do not recall seeing this and my notes indicate otherwise. But, it would appear that many places suffered a really tough Fall where flowers simply were not producing the pollen and/or nectar that is necessary to maintain brood production in a full hive. I’m not sure if this really was the cause, but it is clearly part of the puzzle. I have only gone through about a third of my hives this month, so I really do not know my casualty count yet, but it doesn’t appear that I have experienced terrible losses. But, I do know of many folks that have.

Another point that Keith made focused on requeening in the Fall. The theory goes that a hive simply has a much higher survival rate if they go into Fall with a brand new queen. I believe that this is likely to be true, in the short term. It only makes sense that a hive with a new queen has a better chance in the immediate future. Whether you requeen ever month, every 3 months, once a year or every other year, the period that follows is likely to be better for your hive. You end up with a queen that is producing fresh pheromones and is likely to be raring to go.

But, I still question this general philosophy and can’t help but wonder if it is not another one of the ‘old practices’ that is hampering today’s beekeepers. By removing your queen just as she approaches 1 year, you are never judging a queen for her longevity. Twenty years go, queens might go 7 years in a hive. Today, you’re lucky if they have enough staying power to last 3. But, I am absolutely certain that some of the queens that are being killed (for requeening) would have made it 4 years. But, those beekeepers will never know, since they kill them before they can prove themselves. It is true that you have to attribute a queen’s longevity to how ‘well’ she was mated. So, one might say that ‘longevity’ has nothing to do with genetics, but is simply based on luck (did she have a good period to mate in, with lots of drones available.) As always, I suggest that there may be another way to look at it.

It is  possible that genetics do play a role in how well a queen is mated. One way that Mother Nature may be helping the bees to becoming stronger and better adapted to today’s environment would be queens that have a longer period for when they go out to mate, thus increasing the chances that they are ‘better’ mated then their predecessors. Perhaps they fly longer on a given day or are able to mate more times. There are countless theories that I could provide in this area.

Suffice it to say that I do not requeen in the traditional sense of the word, nor do I believe that it is the right strategy for a sustainable program. I do remove old queens from hives (and let them raise their own), but I never kill them. I will create a Nuc with them and see how they do. Some go on to start a whole new, full-sized hive. Others just become breeder queens. When I have a queen that is coming into her third (and in a very few cases, fourth) year, I’m excited. This is good stuff. The last thing that I want to do is pinch her…

Whoa doggie!

Well, my enthusiasm got the best of me again! I feel like this happens every year!

The good news is that I checked 19 hives and only had one problem hive (see end of post for thoughts on this hive.) The ‘other news’ (I do not consider it BAD, but simply informational) is that I found very few walking drones and nowhere near the amount of capped drone brood that I expected. This was the first bit of news that caused me to hold off creating any Nucs yesterday. These are Nucs that will go (for the most part) to new beekeepers. The last thing I want a new beekeeper to be strapped with is a queen that is not well mated. Based on my drone findings, I should only start Nucs next weekend and really pour it on in 2 weeks.

The second observation was ‘hive build-up’. Although I did find several hives with brood on 6 or more frames, the capped brood was no more than 25% of the frames. In my opinion, I could easily create Nucs today with that kind of setup, but it would definitely set the parent hive back a lot. Basically, imagine the queen beginning to build up. It is more of an exponential process. She starts out with a few eggs one day, a few more the next day and so on. The main thing holding her back is the number of bees available to keep the brood warm during the cold nights (and days, as has been the case the last few weeks.) At some point, there are enough nurse bees to manage nearly all of the eggs that she can lay. I want to create my Nucs when we are very close to this point. So, when I remove a bunch of nurse bees for the child Nuc, the queen does not have to reduce her egg laying by too much (there are still enough nurse bees to sustain her build up.) In my opinion, my hives are 1 to 3 weeks (depending on the hive) from this point. Creating Nucs now would set the hives back by as much as a month in some cases. But, wait for some of that capped brood to hatch over the next couple of weeks and I will only be setting them back by a week or two.

It’s a good thing to set them back, as a swarm management technique, but I don’t want to set  them back so much that it makes it hard to create more Nucs in the near future or puts the hive at jeopardy. That’s my philosophy anyway and the final piece to the drivers for my decision to hold off creating Nucs for the time being.

As always, the Overwintered Nucs are on a totally different playing field. They all have a good amount of drones and have filled up the bottom Deep Nuc with brood (for the most part.) They are laying on 80% of each frame and the bees are rocking. None (that I checked today anyway) have started to lay in the upper Mediums to any degree. I want them to move up into the Mediums and allow me to split them, creating a few Medium Nucs. They may swarm – we’ll see. It’s ‘experiment mode’ this  year.

As to my one problem hive, it was a bit of an oddity (as always!) The hive had plenty of honey and pollen, but it appeared that the bee population was simply too small to support the brood. A lot of capped brood had dead pupae in it and I even saw some that had begun to break out of the capped cell but had apparently perished (probably on a cold night.) I could not find the marked queen, which pretty much means she is gone (I will probably try to find her again today). It was a queen from last year (yellow), so I do find it a bit odd. She actually had gotten a pretty good start within the last 3 weeks (a fair amount of capped brood) but had somehow perished during that time. There were also A LOT of small hive beetles.

The bottom line is that this hive cannot survive in the full setup it is in right now. I could combine them with a nearby, strong hive, but the SHB’s are a bit of a dissuasion here. I could also move them into a Nuc, which would be easier for them to manage, but I’d need to make sure the queen is still alive. More than likely, I will drop by the bee yard some evening when it has gotten cold, grab the whole hive and literally freeze it, bees and SHB’s all. I may then send a few bees to Virginia Tech to have a look. If I do reuse the hive, I will definitely track where those frames go in case I have a problem here. There was some odd, crystal like stuff in some of the cells that I am unable to identify (if I had used mountain camp on these gals, I’d say it was sugar, but I didn’t feed them.) We’ll see, but it is unlikely that I’ll spend much effort on them. They seem to be some genetics that I really didn’t need.

The Season Begins Tomorrow!

It is with no small amount of trepidation that I prepare for tomorrow, the first real day of my beekeeping season for this year. It’s about average, although much later than last year (due to the warm Winter) and is marked by 5 or 6 day period that starts at around 60 degrees tomorrow and rises to the mid (or even upper) 60’s over the ensuing days. It’s the perfect time to start a few Nuc’s and get some full hive  checks done!

My trepidation is due primarily to the fact that I have not been in (or even laid eyes on) 90% of my hives since mid-January. Between the weather and a surprise surgery to remove my gall bladder, I simply have not been able to get out. My biggest fear is that I will find a lot of dead-out’s (dead hives.) I have been spared this consequence in all of my Winters thus far, but it seems that I always come into March with this worry. Tomorrow will be a big ‘tell’. I’ve been told that a lot of beekeepers have experienced unusually large losses this Winter. I like to think that my beekeeping practices have insulated me from this threat, but tomorrow will be the real test. We shall see.

Unless things are truly terrible, I plan to create the first Nucs of the year tomorrow. Most likely, they will all be Deep Nucs (I have not mastered the art of creating Medium Nucs this early) and I will stock them with three frames of brood and a shake or two of nurse bees. At this time of year, I stock the Nuc’s with more resources then I will later in March or even in April (you don’t need as much ‘bee mass’ once the threat of long stretches of freezing weather abates.) This is likely to put my first Nuc sales in mid-April, barring some unfortunate event.

When I go into my hives tomorrow, my first mission is to count the frames of brood. I have no idea what I am going to find, but I am looking for 6 to 7 frames of brood. If they have less, I simply mark that in my journal to help extrapolate when the hive will have the right build to spawn a Nuc. In some of these cases, I might look for the queen (mainly if it’s a hive with an unmarked queen that I want to mark.)

If the hive has the right number of frames, I will create a Nuc off of it. Mission 1 is to locate the queen and isolate her. Sometimes I drop her in a closed up Nuc box that I carry with me. In other cases, I just put her on the furthest frame in the super and grab the frames that I need for the Nuc. While counting the brood frames, I am always noting which ones have eggs, so I generally know what I need. Ideally, I’ll grab another frame that has both honey and pollen and place a frame of foundation on the far side. I literally set the Nuc up in the same yard, level it right and leave. In two weeks, I’ll come back and give them a feeder. A week later, I’ll come back to confirm that I have a queen in the Nuc. If there’s any doubt, they get another frame of eggs.

In most cases, I create a Nuc off of every hive that is ready for one. But, some hives are lower on my Good Hive Scale. Nuc’s created off of those hives are for me and, since I track my queens, I know to watch the hive for whatever bad traits that its parent had (to take action on it in the Fall).

Hopefully, my next post will be one of jubilation and not agony!

Ouch

It’s amazing how often I fail to follow my own advice…’sad’ might be a better way of putting it.

This past weekend, I held the second class in the annual Beekeeping 101 seminar that I do every year. Part of this session included a lengthy session titled ‘Managing Your Hive’ by me. There are several key points to this presentation, but one of them focuses on journals. They are very important and it is equally important to make sure you review them on occasion.

This past Sunday, I made another run of hives out in the hinterlands. Things are really looking up – hives are working on several frames (I have one hive working on 5 frames, but that seems to be the exception). When I say ‘working on’, I basically mean that the queen has brood (at some age) on the frames. This is a big ‘tell’ sign and a definite prerequisite of building Nuc’s (I want the queen to be working 7 frames before I pull a Nuc off of them.) Honey stores look good and things are shaping up nicely.

Then I gave my Overwintered Nuc’s a look…

The Throws of Starvation

The Throws of Starvation

I immediately noticed dead bees on the landing board of the 4th Nuc that I checked. Despite the fact that the loss is not going to be a big loss (in the scheme of things) it still felt like a gut punch. I pried the top off, hoping beyond hope that everything was ok. Once I got into the hive, I had the picture perfect view of a hive that was in the last throws of starvation. It was truly amazing. I literally have nearly 3 supers of capped honey in my basement alone – this doesn’t count a few supers that remain on hives (out in the ‘hinterlands’!) as bank supers. I really could not believe my eyes. I had checked all of my Nuc’s in January. I found that 2 of the ones that I created in August were light and had given both of them several Medium frames of honey. Was this one of them? Did they go through 3 frames of honey in one month?!

So, after breaking down the Nuc and prepping the frames for a quick (48 hours) freeze, I went back to the old journal to get an accurate look. And there it was… This was indeed one of my late Nuc’s. I had come to the conclusion in January that creating Overwintered Nucs in August was not early enough for me. They could get to critical mass, but they could not store enough honey for the Winter. So, I would only create them this late (in the future) if I had plenty of extra capped honey to give them. BUT, I had not gotten to this ONE  hive in my January inspection. I had a clear note – check this Nuc asap – no visibility yet on the amount of stores left! I had checked all of the Nuc’s in my Nuc Yard but this one and KNEW it! But, due to life and other things, had forgotten this ‘to do’ item. Now, I have paid a painful price for it.

The truth of the matter is that ‘these things happen’, regardless of how often you might tell yourself that they don’t happen to me (this is actually the 2nd Nuc that I have had die on me due to starvation since I started doing Overwintered Nuc’s.) But, it is definitely a learning event. Starvation is something a beekeeper can prevent. Whereas I do not believe you should spend the Winter feeding your mature hives, I do believe that Overwintered Nuc’s should be fed and  it’s really not a lot of work if you have frames of honey ready for them. It’s a failing on my part and I am taking steps today to prevent this from happening again in the future. To manage this, I am building a web app to track my hives and inspections here : http://www.richmondbeekeeping.com/index.php?page=testp . I hope to be finished by this weekend, at which point I can make sure that all hives are stored and tracked.

This should prevent future issues. We’ll see…

And So It Begins!

The first nectar of the year!

The first nectar of the year!

At the recent East Richmond Beekeeping meeting (held on Feb 12), one of my friends who hosts a few of my hives mentioned that the bees were on her First Breath of Spring shrub. I remember her mentioning this last year, in February I believe, and asked her to snap a picture. They arrived today! It’s great to see the little gals starting to bring in resources instead of being a total consumer, as they do most of the Winter. It’s certainly not enough to sustain the hives, but I’m certain it is getting them amped up a bit! I have already begun looking for this plant (it is also known as Winter Honeysuckle). I will probably plant 10 of them over the next few years, if I can find the space!

Although this is exciting news, we still have another few weeks of risk. I do not see much in the way of really bad weather, but you can’t rely on anything outside of 12 hours from now when it comes to the Richmond weather folks. Regardless, this was a great sign.

So, I really wanted to get out and look at a hive or two. My first obstacle was the daggone Gallbladder. That thing went south on me last week and the surgeons had to cut it out. I guess I have never had surgery like that before, but it sure is taking FOREVER to fully heal. I can walk around, but get tired really easily and can’t lift anything above 20 pounds (is there anything bee-related that weighs LESS than 20 lbs!?!) I decided to crack the only two ‘full’ hives that I have in the backyard. Both are really late Nucs (started in June) that I was only able to get a Medium super on in September. So, both remained in my backyard, which is not usual (I have a lot (well, 9 that are still alive) of Overwintered Nucs back there and like to keep full hives elsewhere!) My goal was to take off the inner cover and simply go through the Medium super, only lifting 1 frame at a time (I wish my frames had 20 lbs of honey in them, but they definitely do not.)

Walking Drones

Late Winter Drones

The first hive gave me a good show – walking drones, capped drone brood and eggs in drone cells! Walking drones is a huge find. I still have one of the February Nuc’s that I created last year and believe it is doing great, but I’m not going to do that again until I can see how long the queen in that hive really lives a productive life. But, this all but guarantees Nuc’s getting created in early March, weather permitting. It should be pointed out that the second hive had no Drones in the upper Medium and no evidence of drone brood or eggs up there. Both hives were equally strong, but one was already kicking into 3rd gear.

I am encouraged by what I found today. We’ll see what the next few weeks hold.

Beekeeping Newsletter

I am probably biting off more than I can chew, but I have finally started my Beekeeping Newsletter… It is really raw at the moment, but I am ‘fairly’ confident that I will be able to expand/improve it as I learn the new tool (I installed Dada Mail, for any techy’s out there, for the first time.)

Issue_01_2013_Feb

Hopefully this will not be both the first and the last newsletter…

First Winter Loss and Deadout!

It had to happen one of these days, but I must say that it gives me little comfort in knowing that…

The weathermen claimed it would rise into the lower 70’s this weekend, so I used it as the ideal chance to check Winter stores in half of my hives. On Saturday, I focused on the Charles City hives (32 out there) and plan to tackle the Varina/Eastern Henrico hives today. I do not think it rose above 60 yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes today.

What is a ‘hive check’ in January? I suppose it means different things to different folks. For me, it primarily means that I approach the hive and lift it (tilt it) from both the front and back, to get a feel for the weight. This initial check is very valuable – some hives are obviously still chock full of honey (quick checks) and others simply require a visual inpsection (it’s hard to gauge some, so you have to go deeper in.)

The ‘quick check’ is simply taking off the inner cover and looking at the frames of the upper super to be sure you still see capped honey. In my yards, a heavy hive rarely has many bees up in the upper super and it is all capped. In those cases, I will break the upper super off of the top super and tilt  it up, to make sure I see a bunch of bees doing their stuff (I know, I know, the nervous nellies will begin to run around screaming about breaking up the cluster – I don’t think it hurts them any when you have warm days.) The ‘deeper check’ involves actually pulling frames, sometimes on both the upper and lower supers.

I mostly only did quick checks yesterday, although I did run into a few that were questionable and one that was a goner (a first for me.) I dropped a super of honey (from last Fall) on 3 of the ‘iffy’ ones and broke down the ‘deadout’. I gave the questionable ones honey so that I would not have to mess with them again until late February or early March. The ‘deadout’ was a new experience. It was my second strongest hive this past year (honey-wise). I lost my strongest from Westover Plantation in July, so now I lost my second strongest too! Amazing.

The ‘deadout’ was very interesting, once I got over the sadness of losing her. To begin with, there were probably 20 or so bees in the hive. I am fairly certain these were the first of the robbers. I really must have just caught it, as the hive was still chock full of honey with very little evidence of robbing (torn cappings.) Maybe 15 bees were on the bottom board, dead – another 10 were dead, face down in the cells. As with all bee analysis, there are a wide array of possibilities, but I have learned to focus on the most likely. The most likely scenario (based on my hive journal) is that my monkeying with the hive in November either killed the queen or they swarmed really late and the virgin queen never made it back. The bees slowly died out and finally were two few to keep a decent cluster (to keep warm) and just died.

What about laying drones? That’s a pretty good question – if the queen really did fail/die, why didn’t I find a lot of drone cells or dead drones. My hypothesis is that it was so late in the season that the bees did not kick into that mode. Until I actually see drone layers in the Winter, I am sticking with this synopsis. The queen died or was a virgin and died on her mating flight (or didn’t get mated.) Some might say this looks like ‘absconding’. I personally do not think ‘absconding’ holds much water in the Richmond, Va area, so I have crossed that off the list.

At any rate, the next question is ‘what will I do with the current frames of honey and drawn wax’? I will let my wintering Nuc yard eat out the deep and, sometime later this week, freeze the frames on the Medium and put them aside for possible use in the Nuc’s or what-have-you.

Another 30 or so hives to check today – hopefully no deadout’s, but it’s part of the hobby. We’ll see.

Winter Thoughts and Requeening

So, the season has wound down and the bees are put to bed. Although this might be considered a quiet time for the beekeeper, for me it is one of excitement and more work! The excitement centers around the coming Spring. That season is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most exciting time to be a beekeeper when you have hives that are overwintering. The work centers on taking inventory of the last season, planning for the coming season and repairing or building any equipment for increase or new experiments. Although the bees sleep over the Winter, I certainly don’t!

While reviewing my notes (at this point, this includes multiple notepads, a computer app and various scraps of paper in my ‘hive’ file!), I took at look at some of my early strategies and how I had planned to let them evolve as my hive count increased. The central theme of my early increase strategy (‘increase’ simply is beekeeper jargon for methods that he uses to increase the number of hives that he has, like splits, nuc’s, etc…) was simply survivability. I didn’t care if a hive produced only a little surplus honey or if they were a bit mean – I simply wanted the hives that could survive our Winters without any medication or feeding. My goal was to begin to flush my ‘bee genetic pool’ with the survivor traits.

But, starting this past year, I began to weed out some of the hives that didn’t meet certain other standards. By weed out, I simply made sure that I did not create any Nuc’s off of them or increase off of them. They still have the survivor traits, so I want the genetics (I let ’em live to send drones out for my queens).

But, one of the things that I noted this year were the blue queens that survived through the Summer and led hives into the Winter. Out of the 30 or so queens that I started the year with, 5 blue queens came into the year and 2 blue queens made it to this Winter. This is significant on many fronts. To begin with, many beekeepers requeen regularly. A blue queen was born in 2010 , a white queen in 2011 and a yellow this year (2012). Most beekeepers who follow the requeening strategy went into the Winter with yellow queens. Those who went into the Winter with white queens will probably requeen next year. The strategy is based on two theories. One, a young queen increases the survivability chance of a hive over the Winter. Two, a hive is less likely to swarm in the Spring with a young queen.

I do not dispute either of these facts, but I think that this strategy may be a major misstep for the beekeeper that is looking to build apiaries with bees that can survive the various issues of our time without medication. The fact that queens are unlikely to live longer than 3 years is a factor of our times, not of the honey bee. I have been told, back in the day, that queens lived 5 or 7 years. But now, with the confluence of diseases, pests and pesticides, they are unlikely to make it past the 3rd year. So, beekeepers manage to those stats, requeening and removing the chance of having a queen fail over the Winter and thus kill the hive.

But, what if you let those old queens have a go of it? Wouldn’t those old queens be carrying the best of the best, when it came to genetics? Wouldn’t these queens be the ones that you would love to raise your next queens off of? I think so. It is true that my management techniques do not allow a queen of that age to sit in the same hive through their entire life (all of my blue queens from this past Spring went into Nucs before August, allowing the primary hive to raise a new queen to continue on with), but they still have survived. These are the queens that I want to breed my next round of queens from. This is how my strategy has evolved.

Of course, the blue queens in my apiary may not make it through the Winter. Fortunately, I have enough hives that I can sacrifice a few in the pursuit of knowledge. But, I sure hope they make it. Ideally, one will come roaring out of Spring like a young queen and provide me with a bunch of new queens and Nuc’s.

Of course, Spring is a long ways off. Other ideas could cross my mind and change the whole plan. But, that’s why Winter is so fun, as a beekeeper!