If you live in Michigan you are aware that we are in the middle of an unusually mild weather pattern which will last for a few more days. The first day it got warm (and sunny, a very rare combination this winter) was Friday February 17, 2017. I was able to walk out to the hives by the house and see that the one live hive over there was definitely flying. I actually knew that before I looked because they were dive bombing me in the driveway. I had a chance to walk across the street and look at my other hive that was alive in January, and it was also very active. It was after 4:00 pm before I could check the one on my other piece of property. I didn't see any activity. I saw one dying bee, still moving on the ground near the hive, and two more fresh dead bees, but I still wasn't sure. Saturday the 18th was Kalamazoo Bee School, so I was gone all day. Again, it was 4:30 pm before I could check the hive. I saw no activity at all. I was sad and discouraged, thinking I lost that hive. Sunday morning I made sure the hive near the questionable hive still had the sugar water and some honey left in it to rob. My thought was if I had a chance to look in the afternoon, they would surely find that source and be robbing it. I was fortunate enough to have a few minutes in the afternoon around 3:00 pm. As I approached the empty hive, I saw bees flying in and out! Yeah! That meant the other hive had to be alive and had found the stores! Then I saw them flying in and out of their hive. Now I feel much better. The three hives that were alive in January are still alive. I know I can keep them alive now because I can check their stores and give them more this week before the weather cools off again.
The picture above is the live vertical hive and the dead horizontal hive. I purposely put the sugar water feeder that had been in the horizontal hive back in so the bees could go in and rob it. It was a gallon chicken waterer and was full of sugar water still when I removed it. The empty space is where the small swarm hive was, I took it down and cleaned up the equipment. I will check the sugar water on all the live hives later this week and add some to make sure they can make it through.