This past Wednesday, we were finally able to crack open the top-bar hive for the first time this season. Given all of our (well-documented) stressing about wintering the hive, we were very unsure of what we were going to find.
The weather was gorgeous, in the low 60’s, light breeze and full sun. The bees were happy, curious and friendly. We were thrilled by the volume of fondant that was left in the hive. Since our hive got a late start (we got our bees in mid-July), they did not have what we felt was a sufficient amount of honey to get them through a typical Wisconsin winter. We added fondant in the end of November and again in mid-January. Seeing as there was an abundance of it remaining, we helped supplement them through this warm, unseasonable winter.
The only thing that was unexpected was the absence of eggs or larvae. We looked as best we could, but given the volume of bees surrounding the queen, it is entirely possible that we did not see some tiny fresh eggs. It could also point to the fact that winter may not be finished yet and the Queen isn’t quite ready to start building up the hive. We will do another inspection here in the next week or so and we should be seeing some eggs by then.
All in all, given the statistics, the wonky winter, and the horror stories (and pictures) of completely dead hives, we are ecstatic at the survival of our hive. The ladies have been out gathering pollen and water like crazy here the last week or two, so they are eager to get a jump start this year.