One week break from the rain but without the rain brought cold cold nights with near freezing temperatures, and waking up to frost. Tonight at 9PM we are already at 37F and dropping fast. If you stood outside the chill burns to the skin. It’s definitely not nice conditions for our bees, especially those weak ones.
Some sad news to report. Today I noticed no activity at all from the Cowper and Wine Barrel Hives even though it was in the 50s and sunny after the fog burned off in the morning. I did see three bees flying around outside but when I knocked on both hives I heard nothing. Tilted the covers and saw no moving bees, some were near the top but appears to be dead. Opened up both hives and found that both colonies froze!
The Cowper colony. There were only about 20 dead bees plus the queen on the bottom board, a few stuck to combs, all froze and died. In this hive there are honey and it seems like these cold nights were too much for this small cluster to survive.
The Wine Barrel colony was once thriving but not sure what happened. I thought they would make it through Winter but it seems like the population dropped quickly, leaving the colony to try to keep themselves warm enough but of course they couldn’t. When the bees froze and died, they were still in a small cluster. I would say no more than 30 bees that froze. This colony had much capped honey left and would have easily survived until our March flow.
While I’ve lost three hives so far to the cold Fall and Winter I’m not alone. I’ve heard from many local beekeepers that they have lost hives as well. Once strong hives just diminished and died for unknown reasons.
With that said, once we get into February and it warms up, some fruit trees will start to bloom and our flow will start around March. I have a few bee removals scheduled already for when the weather warms up. Hopefully these early rescues will ensure colony build up and prep for the next cold season.