Last year was my first with bees after taking a considerable break from beekeeping, following treatment for a serious bee venom allergy. It was a load of fun; making hives, chasing down swarms and getting back into the swing of inspecting hives after such a long break.
Of the seven swarms I managed to catch last year only one made it through the winter (the trampoline swarm in my top bar hive). They were a strong colony from day one, drawing comb and building numbers quickly. The others languished for various reasons – one queen failed a mating flight, another two absconded and the others were just so small that they couldn’t get established properly and dwindled away.
The weather has been too cold to open the top bar hive and have a look yet, but the bees have been flying and we have good pollen (willow) and nectar around at the moment. I’m a little sad that more colonies didn’t make it through, but it is nice to start the year with one established colony.
In other news I am involved in setting up some hives at the school where I work, as an activity for the pupils. Two nucs arriving shortly, and they will be going in langstroth poly hives.
Fingers crossed the weather keeps on warming up so the bees can fly!