DeadAnnabelleCombFor the first time in a long time the temperature hit the Fahrenheit forties this sunny day and we snow-shoed through two feet of white to Annabelle to look for signs of life. To be cruelly brief, there were none.

While a detailed post-mortem will occur another time, there simply did not seem to be many bees at all in cluster, even fewer than when Beatrix died. There may have been more dead on the floor but in the glare of the sun it was hard to tell. There was some honey remaining although not a lot and perhaps inaccessible in the brutal cold we have long endured. The sugar we had left seems untouched but had done its job of absorbing moisture. For now we simply returned with a chunk of comb to ponder.

Naturally we would like to determine what we should have done to have Annabelle survive. But there may have been nought. Even experienced beekeepers hereabouts have winters when they lose a score or so of their colonies, which may be all they had. We did manage to keep her through one winter if not a second one, exceptional in the magnitude and duration of its cold.

If we insist upon a silver lining, the hive has been in need of some repair of both woodware and comb. This will let us provide it without upsetting tenants. And three nucs should be arriving late spring. It will be a long, silent wait.