May 10, 2017 13°
"Hello in there. Hello." Bette Midler
Judging by social media, I'm the last beekeeper in Ontario to unwrap her hives. My excuse is that our microclimate is two to three weeks later than Southwest Ontario, but the real reason is I'm not in any hurry. The weather is still pretty iffy and it's not like they can't get out and snack on the dandelions. Why remove their warm winter coat without good reason?
Having said that, yesterday was the first warm(ish), sunny day and they were out buzzing, so I thought I'd spend the day unwrapping and taking a quick peek under the covers. I already knew I lost a hive. Even though one lost out of 26 I wintered last year is pretty good, it's still heartbreaking, especially when it's due to running out of stores. Seriously? And I was here just six weeks ago checking stores, and they seemed OK. Clearly not ok, though. I don't know whether they grew too quickly and consumed their remaining stores, or were robbed, or I just underestimated. So as penance I cleaned out that hive first. They hadn't been dead long, so fortunately no wax moth or other pests. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
Happily, the other hives seem to be doing well, although at this time of year I just take a quick look to make sure they still have honey and the queen is laying. I'll do a full inspection when the weather is reliably 15-20°. In the meantime, three did look light on honey, so I added a pound or two of thick honey wrapped in wax paper to the top bars with an Imirie shim.
I should mention that I don't remove the detritus board, I'll leave that on until the end of May for a little bit of extra protection, at which time I'll do a sticky board varroa check. I do remove the mouse guards, though, and replace with the wooden entrance reducers on the small entrance side if I've added honey, and the larger entrance if the hive is strong.
Ok, I'm ready to stop wearing my Uggs!