Over the last few weeks, I have inspected my one remaining Warre hive. This was the Minnesota Hygenic package that I installed. The other hive I had with Carnolians, died out. They were from a nuc I had purchased. From now on, I plan on buying package bees from Lee Knight of Knight Family Honey. He gets his bees from a reputable source (OHB).
Upon inspecting the bee yard, I found a lot of dead bees on the ground. I believe this is normal as it is an accumulation over the winter months, but it still makes on worry. When I looked inside (through the insulated windows), I was able to determine there are bees on 5 of 8 frames and the cluster reaches down about 3/4 of a frame in the middle. Not a large cluster by any means, but this measurement was taken on 1/15/2011 so my hope is that we have enough in there to survive the rest of the winter.
I was a bit alarmed at how close to the top of the upper box they were. I went out and bought a one gallon paint can (coated with plastic on the inside so it won’t rust) and used an awl to punch very small holes into the lid. I then made and filled the paint can a 2:1 syrup which is thick enough not to stimulate the queen to lay eggs. I took some burlap and cut a small square in the middle and then sewed the square piece next to the hole at a hatch. It reached 42 degrees on 1/16 and I very briefly opened up the hive, took off the quite and put the new burlap onto the top of the bars. I then quickly inverted the can with syrup onto the square hole and put small pieces of wood bars on four sides so the can would sit above the bars slightly. This allows for the bees to get up under the can to feed. I then put a box on and filled it with wood shavings and shredded paper.
I checked the weight of the can on 1/21/11 and it feels like it is about 3/4 full which means the bees are feeding off of it.
Still, it is only 1/23 and I have at least a couple more months to go before I can say my bees survived the winter.