I mailed what I hope is a final bee order this morning. Five packages are coming for this spring's installation. Hopefully, I learned enough from last year's mistakes to keep the ladies alive and well in future Ohio winters. I had three hives going into fall in varying states. Each perished in their own way due, almost entirely, due to my mismanagement as a new beekeeper:
- The first hive was going great at the end of the year. Unfortunately, they stored most of their honey in a super I left on too long. I left it on for the winter hoping they would cluster in there and survive. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too much space to heat and they died pretty early in the winter.
- The second hive lost its queen in August. This proved too late for a new mated queen before the end of the season. They made it longer than the other hive, but were essentially a lost cause earlier since I didn't requeen them and hoped their new queen would be mated too late in the season.
- The third hive starved in late February. I thought they had enough stores to make it to March and planned on feeding them then. They did not. This was, I hope, the most important lesson to learn. I need to feed more aggressively if we have another unseasonably warm month mid-winter.
Painful lessons to learn, but glad I had an opportunity to learn these on a small set of hives rather than a field full of them. I'm sure there will be more to learn this year too!