Following the discovery of a dead hive by our caretaker, an urgent hive check-up was planned for Thursday the 11th. The hives are routinely checked during the winter months, for the purpose of inspecting any damage done by the elements on the colonies. This is done by gently (but noticeably) knocking on the side of the hive and listening intently for a response from the colony in the form of a sudden slight burst of buzzing which quickly dies away after the realization that no danger is eminent. During the last inspection, most of the hives appeared to be in healthy condition, with some of the weaker ones exhibiting a softer response due to their smaller colony size.
Last week, however, all but a very few of the bees in hive #10 appeared to have died due to the lack of honey in the frames (which should not have run out yet). The mysterious disappearance may be likely explained by the possibility of the honey having been robbed from the hive by scouts from neighboring hives. In such a situation, the way to act would be to ensure the other hives do not suffer similar fates. To secure the hives in such circumstances, the hives can be supplied with an additional source of food in the form of sugar patties (see below for recipe).
The hive check-up was scheduled at noon, the warmest part of the day, to reduce exposure of the bees to the cold. Each hive-cover was gently lifted, and the sugar patties, which were prepared before-hand, were slipped on top of the cluster. The lid was gently placed on top of the patty with minimal sacrificing of bees (AKA least bees squished as possible!!!).
From the inspection, it appeared that hive #5 and hive #8 were one of the weaker ones. These weaker hives would require continuous surveillance to guarantee their survival. The supplied sugar patties should last each hive till spring! Rest in peace hive # 10...