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And then there was one...

Here is the last hive standing. The one that was alive by the greenhouse did not survive the last cold snap we experienced. We had several days of nights in the low teens, as low as 10 degrees. The hive pictured above apparently was able to withstand that, but the one by the greenhouse was not. I have not opened the one that died yet, I will wait on that. I knew it didn't look good, but on Friday March 24, 2017 we had a very warm, 76 degree day. There were no bees flying in and out of the hive by the greenhouse. This hive, however had a lot of activity. It was a very windy day, so I tried to watch the entrance of the hive from the east, which is the up-wind side, but I couldn't get very close because the bees were getting blown into me. So I moved to the west side and observed for a few minutes and was able to see that for sure they were bringing in pollen of at least two different colors. This is important because it means they have a queen who is producing brood. This queen has now survived two winters. Recently this is the longest I can reasonably expect a queen to survive. Unless she is very unusual at some point this summer she will die, probably in early August. With that in mind, and since this is my only surviving hive, my plan is to get four new queens from Olivarez Apiaries in northern California and make four small splits from this hive. I will leave the queen with a fifth split, giving me five hives total from it. It is risky to split it to that extreme, but since I must assume this hive is in its last season it is a risk I must make. Besides all that, this hive has been very good at making bees, but not so good at making honey. That makes it even easier to split it up to make more hives because I wouldn't get much honey off of it anyway. I figure nothing ventured, nothing gained and I don't have much to lose, so I am going to go for it. We will have to use this hive for our overwintered hive inspection in April, so I will make sure it is OK with my neighbor for all of us to tramp over there for that.

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