After some discussions with some members of the beekeeping association The Other Mark and I decided it was high time we checked our beehives to see if they were still alive and if they needed feeding. I had confirmed that Dagmar, the colony in my back yard was dead recently and it made me concerned for the other three. This afternoon we trudged through the snow first to our more rural apiary to check on Mary, the first cutout we did, and Lisa, one of the hives we created with a Varroa Sensitive Hygenic queen. The Other Mark had just returned from helping a more experienced beekeeper feed his bees so he had some tips on what to look for with our hives.
At first glance Mary looked promising; there are icicles hanging off the cover and there are dead bees in the very recent snow in front of the hive.
With these encouraging sights I put my ear against the upper entrance—daring, I know!—and knocked on the hive. The buzzing was loud and clear. We have live bees! Unfortunately there were no external signs of life from Lisa and when we checked the fourth hive which is in town it also looked dead. That one we opened and confirmed the sad news.
I was feeling a little pessimistic after finding the backyard hive was dead so discovering that we still have a live hive to work with really lifted my spirits.