It’s been an uncommonly warm January here in Western North Carolina. The bees had numerous days of 60°+ weather. This gave the younger girls who were born, raised and never left the interior of their hives the chance for cleansing and orientation flights. It also gave me the opportunity to compare the weight of hive #1 with and without a good deal of bees.
I wrote about the queen and weight of hive #1 last month. Queen Regina Margherita of the House of Savoy. (Aka: Marge) and her minions began the winter with 1.5 pounds of foraging bees and strong resources. Its benchmark weight was 67.2 lbs. Days before the bees began wintering, there was a fluctuation of 1.5 lbs. during the warmer daylight hours. 1.5 lbs. of bees were flying out of the hive for cleansing, orientation and scouting flights. This means a perfect wintering number of 5000+ strong, vigorous bees were in the hive at night keeping Marge and her brood warm.
The above graph depicts a recent weight capture of hive #1 during two recent spring like days. The total weight of the hive at night when the bees are warming Marge and a minimal amount of brood is 61.2 lbs. Remember, it weighed 67.2 lbs. on November 10, 2016; a difference of 6 lbs. Because the Wi-Fi Hive Scale from O’Keefe Electronics only measures half of the hives weight, let’s double the loss of weight and make it 12 lbs. Thus, the bees have gone through 12 pounds of honey in just over two months. This is perfectly normal.
Looking at the graph, we can also see the fluctuation of weight when the bees vacate the hive. On Saturday, Jan 14 the temperature wasn’t warm enough for the bees to leave. At the sake of repeating myself, it was 61.2 lbs. The next day, the temperature was back in the mid 60’s. The hive weight dropped to 59.80 lbs. for a total loss of 1.4 lbs. This is the same amount of bees that were leaving the hive last fall.
Queen Margherita and her girls are showing a perfect pattern of bee behavior during the winter months. It’s strong in both resources and bee numbers. It gives me pause to my planned assassination of her this spring. More on that later.