While doing my regular feeding at this time of year, I discovered that one of the hives died out.
It was very disappointing! But I know why and its nice to be able to learn every time I visit the bees.
They had plenty of capped honey and pollen, so they didn't starve.
We stuck our fingers in and had a good taste of the honey. It was light and tasted of flower blossoms. Yum!
This hive was a late nuc that I ordered for my sister but ended up keeping to over winter for her. Her hive body was very late in being supplied so this colony spent too long in a nuc late summer and it was aug or sept before it was moved into a full hive.
By then it had planned to swarm due to the lack of space. It had tried and I'm still unsure if it succeeded but there was a period of little brood and therefore went into winter with a modest amount of bees, maybe three frames of bees and not many frames of stores.
My sister bought an ashford feeder so I used this in autumn but took it off in nov as it had caused so much mould and damp in the hive.
I know that these bees died due to damp and condensation within the hive. Upon inspection there was no vents in the roof, which surprised me. My other hives have these.
There is mould in the cells containing pollen in the above photo.
Ireland is very wet and I have stopped using syrup to feed my bees due to the condensation it caused. I use fondant blocks but I try to leave them with enough stores by using all double brood boxes. They don't usually need feeding but I always leave them a block, just in case.
I took the roof off a neighbouring hive which was making use of the fondant left on the crown board. They are a very active and strong colony.
I placed the now vacant brood box on top of the crown board. This hive now has three brood boxes. They will clean up the frames and make use of the stores.
In May I will move the brood box back to make a spilt.
I am hoping to experiment with two perone style hives this season.
The bees are flying everyday now for a few hours. I haven't seen them bring back pollen yet but the dandelions are now coming into bloom.