The bees were out taking cleansing flights today, and looking for a little melting snow to lap up.  I don't believe I have seen any flights since December sometime.  

February 22nd and I finally got a day with temps warm enough to peek into this hive.  I figure that 32 degrees above is almost 50 degrees warmer than we have been, so we are ALL feeling giddy.  And sure enough, when I plowed down to the apiary I saw a great many bees flying.  (By the time I went back in and got the camera, they had mostly gone in again.)   

Notes from the opening.  The quilt board is doing its job well.  The yellow box is full of pine shavings, held in with a fabric bottom.  Thankfully, they have not tried to chew through the fabric.  The pine has been absorbing moisture and had a good layer of frost on it.  The bees were completely covering the top of the frames, not a good thing, I think.  They did not seem to be balled up.  BUT. . they had been trying to get in and out of the upper entrance, that small hole in the white board.  So all the bees are at the top of the box because that is where the door is. I would have expected to see just the top of a much smaller ball. But what I expect is NEVER what I find. There seems to be a great healthy colony in there!   Now if we can just get through the rest of this winter.  In one week it will be March.  

I put in one winter patty for them to eat. This is what a winter patty looks like above.   It is too cold to check any further to see what kind of stores they have left.  Reminder:  in the fall, this colony was added to with a queenless colony, that had swarmed and then failed to get a new queen mated and settled before cold.  I could not find the green dot queen in this hive at that time, but I had to hope she was alive and well.  My last check was at a time when she would not have been laying at all.  I put them to bed with plenty of honey and some pollen.
I have ordered a new package of bees for April.  So IF these girls survive I will be starting with two colonies in the spring. But a northern wintered-over queen is the best.

They have been cleaning winter casualties out the bottom entrance.  I have kept this lower entrance free of snow, mostly for air circulation.  A few bees were coming and going from this entrance  today.  Lots of cleansing flights.

Here is one girl getting a drink, I guess, on the snow.

And J got out for a little vitamin D absorbing, too, after he plowed me a path to the apiary.  I think he is actually asleep.  It is all of 32 degrees.
But, no wind.  And after this month of negatives with added wind chills, it feels absolutely balmy.  

Even the chickens came out for a bit of fresh air.

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