I’ve been gone from the forums for the last 6-8 months or so…recovering emotionally from what ended up being a devastating fall for my 2 colonies. Everything was going so very well, until it wasn’t. Mites were very low, hives were thriving and productive, then all of a sudden the yellow jacket robbing ramped up (despite all efforts to help the hives protect), and it turned out that was just a symptom that something had gone terribly wrong.
My mentor visited, but she could not ascertain what the underlying problem was and we ultimately gave it a generic “CCD” diagnosis. Long story short, a few days after inspection, we closed up the weakest hive in the late afternoon, then opened them after dark to 1) get the robbers to leave and 2) allow the bees that belonged there to come home. When I opened up in the morning - THERE WERE NO BEES to speak of - a couple dozen live bees, and about 50-100 dead on the bottom board. The same fate befell the second, stronger hive, and soon I was out of the “beekeeping business”.
I harvested a couple of frames of honey, but put everything else in the deep freeze for 4-7 days in the hope that I would be able to reuse some of the frames for new colonies this spring. And I have - I installed 2 nucs on Saturday, with a combination of the nuc-supplied frames, 2 honey frames, and an empty brood frame. The nucs seemed in good shape - one of them had a completely empty frame, but the other was nearly full up. Neither showed any signs of swarm cells - that this newbie could tell, anyway.
I’m feeding sugar water, and the bees are bringing in plenty of pollen. There is a good chance that at least one of the colonies may be ready for a second brood box by the weekend since I was able to start them out with fully-drawn frames on their first day.
Hoping that things go better this year!