A Second Look
So, is this hive alive or not? I have been working on the assumption it is because of the bees flying in and out of the top entrance. Now I am pretty sure it is not and this is why. This week I had the opportunity to visit the hives on three occasions at different times of days in slightly different weather conditions. The first day it was 4 pm and although warm enough for bees to fly, they felt it was time to be home. There were a few bees on the other hive, the one that has been strong, but none on this one at all. The next day it was warm - 61 degrees, but very windy. Again, there were lots of bees on the other hive, working like I would expect for this time of year, cleaning out dead bees and acting normal. There was no activity at all on this hive. Then the next day, it was around 57 degrees and the wind was less. Now, it looked like this picture. Lots of bees coming in the upper entrance. I stood back and watched where the bees were coming from. They were not coming from the other hive. There was no traffic between the two hives. I realized then that they were coming from the north. A little detective work brought me to this conclusion - those are robber bees and that hive is dead. I know the property owner of the property where our hives are located owns a full mile north of the hives. I also know there are no other beehives on his property. There is a slight chance someone in the narrow strip to the west of the hives has some bees, but I am not sure. This leads me to the conclusion that these robber bees are coming from a minimum of a mile away. This would explain why they were not there in the late afternoon or in conditions that would make it hard to fly that far, like strong winds. Thinking back, it has been this way for most of the winter. Maybe the hive has not been alive for a long time. It does have a sugar water feeder on top, which makes it a prime location for robbers. It could have been dead even since I first put the feeder on in the fall, when the hives seemed to finally combine. So, the conclusion is that I have one live, strong hive. I am pretty confident it will make it through. I keep watching for pollen. I think I will see some anytime now. I will keep you posted.