I performed a sound check of all my hives today using a stethoscope. That involved a hike through the snow of about 1 ½ miles to reach all of them. As previously stated I took 40 hives into winter. Based upon a quick and dirty early October inspection I had classed 27 hives as strong, 10 as medium strength and 3 as weak. As of today 38 hives are still humming. Of the two lost since my last report, one had been classed as weak and one medium.
Although I have lost 2 hives so far I am happy with the results (5% loss) to date. This time last year I had already lost 23% of the hives. This is a significant improvement over last year, which I attribute to steps taken back in August. A) Heavily feed all first year hives (that free sugar sure helped), B) Don’t try to overwinter any hive started after June, C) Treat for mites in mid August and again in September and October, D) cull or combine weak hives.
Both of the lost hives had been wrapped with a BeeCozy. As stated previously I have tracked hive survival of wrapped versus unwrapped hives for several years and have seen no difference.
One hive appears to have mice in it. Tomorrow I will slip in a little piece of rat poison to try to remedy that situation. There is a long way yet to go until spring, but the winter solstice has passed and the amount of sunshine is slowly increasing day by day.