February 15th 2010
It has been interesting to observe the hives this winter. I vowed to just let them do their thing and not interfere. I haven’t opened them up at all. All three had just shy of 2 supers of honey….maybe 1.5 supers for the winter reserves. I also experimented with leaving a varying number of empty supers on top of the of the bees as well as leaving a vent hole in the top supers.
The hive that had the most empty supers (two) and a vent hole at the top has fared the best. This is the only hive at this point that has had bees coming and going. It seems busy. The other two hives are pretty quiet although guard bees come out if I mess with the entrance too much.
The numbers of dead bees is lowest in this hive as well and the numbers are all WAY down from last year. I was adding warm sugar syrup last year and I think the condensation created from that was killing a lot of bees.
I have cleared the most dead bees from the hive with the fewest number of empty supers on top (0) and no vent.
I started feeding the two hives that are the quietest using an outside feeder (1 to 1 by weight ratio).