After reading too many articles fanning our fears of bees starving in the spring we have been impatient for a warm day to open the hive but the predicted early spring warmth has instead been continued cold, gloom, and rain. This last wretched weekend shuffled through rain, sleet, and snow.Then Monday the temperatures approached 70°F with some sun in between the overcast and our first daffodil of the season bloomed. (We did not take a picture. You will have to make do with this one from when we first lined the driveway with them.)
While we probably should have suited up and made a proper inspection, we lacked time and the weather was not that conducive even if the best we have had thus far. Instead we made up a baggie of syrup for surely-must-be-starving-by-now Annabelle to be installed when we could snatch a quick moment from our day. We intended to deposit it in the feeding chamber, slit it open, pop the cork in the follower so the girls could reach the baggie, and slip away before they realized we were about. Just because one of us collected a sting on the face when we last tried something like this was no reason it could not work. And it was working until we could not remove the cork since it had naturally become propolyzed into place.
Lacking bee veils and hive tool, we did have a Victorinox and foolhardiness. A screwdriver blade sufficed to free the follower board so that we could remove it, knock out the cork, and replace the follower. Only a few bees came out to see what we were about but quickly lost interest and the baggie was installed without any stings.
Before leaving, we took a peek through the window and were elated at the number of bees busily crawling over the comb. It was not clear what they were doing but they were hard at it and Annabelle seems to have survived the winter with a good population. The floor was littered with cappings and a few dead bees. And there seemed a touch of mold at a few comb edges near the window. They should tidy this all up in their good time.
As we returned to the house, feeling much less fearful, images of what we had seen when we removed the follower returned to us. There had been plenty of fondant making a sticky mess on the floor and the last bar of comb still had its top half full of honey. Our baggie of syrup, installed in anxious haste, now seems entirely surplus to requirements. Good. At least it is there should things suddenly change.