What a difference a week makes. I returned from a week long vacation and took a peek at the hives on a clear, sunny but breezy almost 50 degree day. There was no activity at all on either hive. I poked a stick in on the hive that had been previously alive and did not get even one bee to come investigate. There were some scratch markings in the ground at the front and back of the hive. There were also a few dead bees on the ground amidst the scratch marks. As you can see in the picture there were some dead bees by the entrance. The stick did not bring out any debris from the bottom board, which led me to believe that this hive just got too small to survive. Although I was gone for a week, I was told it was quite cold, at least at night for several nights during that period. I was depressed, I had hoped I had one survivor this year. I know the odds were stacked against it, from the beginning. So, now I look forward to spring. I have two local nucs ordered. We also have a field day scheduled next week when hopefully beekeepers can connect to share bees and we can talk about ordering queens. Thus ends the story of what happens when one doesn't act fast enough to move hives when there is too much pressure and competition. Last spring I should have moved my hives around this time of year, but I had no idea the commercial beekeeper would be back with double the hives. I should have done it anyway because my hives were so weak they couldn't take advantage of the early spring flow of dandelions and build up sufficiently. Let's all learn from this. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. The bees must have enough to eat. We also must have strong enough colonies to take advantage of what is out there. I will say this - keep it in perspective. As I drove home from checking the hives I passed a friend on the road out for a walk with her dog. She lost her husband at the end of last year. I just lost a couple of beehives. That's not really such a big loss in the big picture of things after all. Spring is coming and with it new life. I will have bees again, and this year we will get some honey!!! Stay tuned!