I plan to place at least one more beehive in my secret location sometime in the spring because my colonies there are always in the best shape, better than any of my colonies anywhere else. Unlike most of my hives in other locations, including the hives in Flatrock next to my house, my secret hives don’t get much special treatment.
Each hive has a cotton pillow sitting over the inner cover, sheltered by a ventilation rim and a standard telescoping top cover. No winter wrap. Less critically I’d say, there is also a piece of silver bubble wrap on top of the inner cover, shrew-proofing 6mm / quarter inch mesh covering the bottom entrance (no mesh on the top entrance), a simple windbreak for the bottom entrance and a shelter for the top entrance made from a yogurt container.
In the video, I take a peek under the hood of two hives. I thought perhaps the bees were low on honey because they’ve been clustering near the top bars (near the top of the hives) all winter instead of deep down below their honey like they usually do. But I spotted several frames of thick honey in both hives, so they’re not hungry yet.
The population in both hives looks great too. The bees were covering all 10 frames in the top medium supers, but it was also a warm day, so they’re weren’t clustering too tight. Nevertheless, I’ve seen enough struggling winter colonies to recognise two healthy and robust colonies when I see them.
All I did was add a feeder rim to both hives just in case I have give them sugar later in the winter, but I don’t think I do. I’ve given sugar to most of my other colonies, as well as pollen patties, because I’m not convinced they’ll do well on their own (Flatrock next to the ocean doesn’t seem like a great place to keep bees). If I gave these colonies pollen substitute (protein patties), I don’t think I’d be able stay on top of them. The population would explode and I could end up with another swarm in May like I did the first time I had a swarm. No thanks. If I’m paranoid (and I usually am), I might drop some in sugar for them sometime in March, though I suspect they’ll be fine on their own until the summer.
I agree about Flatrock as a location for keeping bees…
It’s definitely been challenging. For a while I wondered, “What am I doing wrong?” But since I’ve taken exactly the same approach to my bees in other locations but with much better results, I’ve come to accept that Flatrock is a tough spot for honey bees.
I know other NL beekeepers who keep their bees fairly close to the ocean, but not as close as you or me. Our proximity to the Labrador Current, one of the coldest ocean currents in the Western Hemisphere, probably doesn’t help either. Only a small handful of coastal areas on the northeast coast of NL feel its effects. Flatrock gets hammered by it.