It's been so cold of late - well at the times that have been open for me to get to my bees - that last Friday was really the first time this year I've been able to look through my hives. It all looks quite good really. I'm not sure what I was expecting for a first inspection; I always think the hives are going to be bursting with new brood and the hive on the verge of swarming. The reality is normally very different.
None of my hives had much (if any) brood and I wonder whether the cold snap we had a couple of weeks ago hit them hard. But they were good tempered and seem to have sufficient stores in house. Certainly enough now that Blackthorn is in flower. Apparently the bad weather we just had is termed a 'Blacktorn Winter' as the snow and cold followed the flowering.
I removed some of the supers that were left on the hives over the winter. Several of these contained frames of set (Ivy) honey. so i need to figure out what to do with that! Now all my hives are down to a single deep and a single super which seems manageable for the time of year and none have queen excluders in them. I did reverse one super - I saw the queen in this and decided to do a reverse to encourage her to move up - I'm ever the optimist!
All this means I'm going to be hands off for a couple of weeks, or a month. Mid-April always used to be the first real nectar flow in Missouri, and although it's very very different here I'll wait until at least then before I do anything else, other than perhaps just sit by the hive enjoying their activity!
It's also good having my observation hive at home close at hand and I'll take a look in it as soon as I can. This is my base line as I always thought they we're the weakest hive coming into winter. If they survive then the others must be doing well!
To date, in baseball parlance, I'm "5 for 5" with my hives. Five into winter and five out (so far). Life is good!