Warm Winter Weather Hive Inspections

Bright pollen stored in old brood comb.

"It took my breath away, too, 
how we could take up so little space and yet contain it all, 
the vast demands, the amplitude of love."
- Marisa de los Santos

Brood comb is darker than honeycomb mostly because some of the cocoons that the bees develop in remain and merge with the comb. This comb is from one of my four hives that died over the winter (the one the bear got into this past summer). All these provisions (3 and a half medium supers) will be used for the other hives and any splits I make. I will make at least one split to replace this loss. 
The other three hives are doing well and all have 60-140# of honey on them each. So I may harvest honey in the Spring once a good nectar flow is on and there is no expectation of any super cold stretches. My fingers are crossed that I lose no hives in the next couple months with this strange warm weather. (78! degrees today!).  
The bees are bringing in loads of pollen which stimulates brood rearing. Once there is brood in the hive to keep warm, the bees may prioritize this over leaving the brood to die, even if it means starving to death because the nectar stores are just a bit too far away to get to because of cold temperatures. The bees are clustered in a ball, and move and work as a unit in the hive, when the temperatures are in the 40s; in the 30s they will not break cluster. The queen is kept in the middle of the cluster to an amazing 95 degrees regardless of outside temps! 
So, strangely warm weather in winter can jump start Spring processes with the bees, just like it does with, for instance, fruit trees.  The warm spell makes the creature think spring is here, and their cycle changes, then we get a cold snap...and flower buds freeze - meaning no fruit for the year, or bee queens lay eggs that metamorph into larvae that then need to be kept warm. 

Ariadne, pollen laden landing

Stella, full pollen baskets

These two above hives are of genetics in their 8th winter, with no treatments, no re-queening...  These are hives whose genetics are what I've been working for - bees who can do their thing without my coddling or manipulation, just gentle support, those who can withstand mites, etc. without my propping them up with artificial inputs or anthropocentric meddling - and will continue working for as I go into my 11th year of beekeeping...  I knew when I began that this had to be possible and I am finally feeling vindicated in going against what I was taught (ie:  you must put pesticides in the hive to control mites, you must kill the queen and replace her every two years, etc.)

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