Yesterday was in the mid 40s and was a good time to do the first inspection of the season and install pollen patties on the hives. The forecast was for a high of 50 with Monday being even warmer, but with a narrow window and rain being called for on Monday, today was the day. Once the temperatures warmed up to 42 I headed off to the first yard hoping that what I found would be dramatically different than last year’s huge loss. The bees weren’t very active at the first yard, but as it got a bit warmer though the day they were more active until the sun disappeared behind the clouds. The timing for placing pollen patties was just about perfect. While we are expected to get some very cold weather yet this week, it should only be 2 or 3 weeks until the maple trees begin blooming and the bees will quickly loose interest in the pollen patties when the real stuff is available. So they really need to be on the hives soon so the bees will take advantage of them.
It’s also very important this time of year to check the weight of the hives to evaluate how much honey they have left. As the bees start rearing brood over the coming weeks they will accelerate their use of honey and hives that are strong now could quickly be lost to starvation. I found a few hives will need some feeding soon myself, but most will be fine, at least until I get around to check them again in a couple weeks time.
The tally at the end of the day, 123 Live hives, 8 dead (including 2 I knew were dead months ago and 2 others that are so weak right now that I’m betting they won’t make it), and one very tired beekeeper. Checking 131 hives in 5 yards in a matter of 6 hours by oneself, even if it was only a quick inspection, is exhausting work. But it’s a good feeling when you get back home and peal off the soggy boots after finding only a 6% loss.