It's been a while since the last post. After the lull of mid-late winter, as you all know, this spring came on early and strong. It's now been a busy time of year (for myself and
the bees). I'm happy to report that all 3 hives at our little TLC Apiary made it through the winter, with food to spare.
To discourage swarming, in late winter/early spring, I had moved any empty supers (boxes) from the bottom of the stack to the top. As winter progresses, the over-wintering cluster of bees slowly eats its way upward in the hive. When it hits the top cover, the hive may start to feel crowded and swarming can ensue. "Reversing" the boxes as I mentioned can help relieve congestion, and will (sometimes) prevent the swarming tendency. As the brood chambers of our hives consist of 3 medium supers, I repeated this shuffling process a couple of times in March.
Really the only major flaw with the beeyard site is that there is no protection from harsh winter winds. Cold temperatures alone are not a big problem for the bees, but if you add dampness or winds blowing through the cracks in a hive, it can spell trouble in the winter months. A quick strawbale windbreak served very nicely to shelter the hives, and the bales will be easily re-purposed in the gardens on site this season. We hope to plant a living windbreak this year, but in a pinch, almost anything can work. It goes to show, if you think you have a less-than-ideal spot for your bees, there may be a very simple solution to get the location up to snuff.