Mother Nature has thrown the worst weather imaginable at us over the past few days. There has been snow, ice, rain (3" on Tuesday), cold and high wind (recorded gusts of over 100 mph in our high mountains). The bees were mostly staying inside the hives and during breaks I could rap on the side of the hives and hear them buzzing inside. During a brief break on Monday, I saw a good many bees outside Walter, the hive on the right, but no activity at all around Ora. I could hear no sound from the inside and I was worried. There had been lots of healthy bees in this hive on last inspection, but I know how quickly bees can die if faced with a problem. The temperatures warmed to the low 50's yesterday and, once again, I saw a good many bees coming and going from Walter. I decided to briefly open the inner cover on Ora and see what was going on. When I removed the inner cover I could see only a very few bees and since I was already that far in I lifted the shallow super. Much to my relief, I saw clustered in the forward right quadrant of the hive tons of bees!!!! After about 2o minutes I was back in the garden and look at all those bees flying outside Ora. Relief!, for me and the bees.
I also took a quick peek under Walter's inner cover and could see lots of bees inside. They didn't seem to be clustered like in the other hive. It's been very interesting having 2 hives this season for comparison sake. They are like having 2 children - they will never be the same but you always hope for the best out of each of them. The fun will start next season when I have Top Bar hives to compare to the Langstroth.
When the weather turned so cold last week I had put boards under the screened bottom boards to help with heat retention in the hives. When I checked those boards yesterday I could see debris from both hives. I think that's a good indication of hive activity and as the weather really gets bad, and it's going to this weekend, that will be a good way to check for live bees in the hives. I noticed a few varroa mites on each board, but I think half a dozen over a 2 week period is very acceptable.
Our temps are forecast to be single digit tonight and highs over the next 2 days only in the 20's with snow/ice on Saturday. Have I said yet "it's going to be a long winter".....