With the cold days of winter there is little to see about the hives. No traffic at the entrances. No busy hordes seen through the observation windows although scraps of wax on the floor suggest they have been feeding from their still ample stores. The girls are clustered out of sight. And the hive ought not be opened lightly or for long. So a chance to try out another toy, that is, piece of reasonably priced diagnostic equipment.
On a forty Fahrenheit degree day we stood about ten feet before Annabelle and scanned along her front with our Kintrex IRT0421 non-contact infrared thermometer. Her unoccupied half unsurprisingly read a consistent forty (40°F/4°C) from end to follower board location. But on the other side of that threshold the temperature read a degree warmer and at the end where the bees would be clustering it read a full five degrees warmer (45°F/7°C), a very gratifying observation. If we later feel inclined to put on a show of science we might carefully scribe equally spaced locations on Annabelle’s face and record the corresponding temperatures and make an impressive graph. Oh, and we should have scanned the rear as well, particularly the observation window location. Another time.
But we did scan the front of Beatrix. The readings were less gratifying with a consistent forty (40°F/4°C) all along the face. No increase in temperature where the bees should be. The pessimistic interpretation is, of course, that they are not there or not alive. But we remind ourselves that Beatrix has lain doggo before and her walls are twice the thickness of Annabelle’s and she is a smaller colony and so on. Perhaps we shall quickly open her for a look some warmer sunny day if such weather does not rouse her to obvious activity. Meanwhile, as ever, we fret.