2014 Bee Season Arrives!
The blog and I took the winter off from posting. And it was a long, long winter. Supposedly it has been about 30 years since we had such cold. Beekeepers around Iowa mostly had a hard time with wintering. I'm installing some packages and performing the usual splitting to get back to strength, while Alex and Phil did better making it through the winter and just need to split. Splitting conditions aren't the best today--there is fierce wind today with 50 mph gusts and storms to the west, but it's still better than the wickedly cold experience of our 2013-14 winter. The bees needed some relief too. Beekeepers will appreciate the 'cleansing flight' evidence from earlier in the year. These are images from a Feb. 20 inspection.
Some bees didn't make it to their cleansing flight and dysentery broke out instead. That is an unpleasant mess to stumble upon, and it also usually seals a dismal fate for the bees if it happens much before spring. Now we're in happier times. Dandelions are about to bloom (a few already opened). Up to now, most of the early nourishment has come from tree pollen. One yard I visited had a bunch of blue pollen carriers this year! Fun fun.
In the next week I'll start checking queens in splits I made several days ago, and seeing if any of the other hives are ready for their first split. It's such a relief to see the bees getting stronger again instead of waning through winter. I hope things are looking up for everyone else too. Lastly, today I updated the queen website to show availability for May: Ebert Queens webpage. We have four days of rain supposedly on the way, but hopefully you have sunnier days ahead.