The visit to the apiary today left one feeling pleased and sad at the same time.
The next visit is not going to be for two weeks and with this extended cold patch the idea was to ensure all the colonies have enough stores to see them through to mid March no matter what. To this end a 2 kg bag of sugar was cut and submersed in water for 5 seconds then placed upon the crown board of the hive within a super box (acting as an eke).
Two of the hives the bees were very active and upset by the disturbance which was good news in that it indicated a healthy colony. One hive did not require any extra feed, it still had the fondant from January and the colony although small looked comfortable. The sister colony which had been rescued from neglect by one of our members last summer sadly had died and is now closed up. It was the healthy hive photographed on January 16th showing good activity. In fact hefting it each week suggested it had sufficient stores, the issue seems to have been that all the stores were in the box above the brood chamber separated by a Queen excluder, the small colony could not bridge the cold metal gap to get to the stores:-)
The final colony was the pleasure (although we are not out of the woods yet). Firstly there were a lot of dead bees behind the mouse guard so the floor was replaced, the picture shows the carnage on the old floor but at the same time it gives encouragement by showing the bees are working 7 frames (see the lines of wax deposits). This colony is sick and has been a concern all winter but is surviving, it has been fed and if it survives to March we will try a Bailey comb change.