Last weekend was the first real break from the summer heat (which has come back in full force this week) and though the desert shrubs and wildflowers have yet to reappear, I decided it was time to have a look in the hive and see how the bees were doing after I had pulled the feeder a couple of weeks ago after the bees stopped using it and it only seemed to be drawing ants.
On approach, the colony sounded good with a clear hum emanating from the hive, and a handful of bees could be seen heading in and out. With the cover off, I could see through the screened top that a few bees were up above the top of the new super I had put on when I removed the feeder, but as I generally expected there was no activity on any of the frames of that super. Going down to the next super I found it generally busy with a good amount of capped sugar water “honey” as well as quite a bit more actual honey than I would have expected given the general lack of forage in the area. A colleague who lives a bit over a mile away said he’s started seeing honeybees on the lima bean flowers in his garden, so my guess is that with garden plants starting to come out of their heat-induced dormancy the bees are finding at least something out there if they range far enough.
The brood box also showed a good supply of stores, as well as more capped brood than the last time I was in. I had the good fortune to spot both the queen and some emerging bees on the second frame I looked at, which gave me a bit of confidence that everything is going as it should and the queen is working to get and keep the colony at the right size for the conditions. It is still a touch on the small size in my opinion, but I am hoping that for bees in the desert coming out of a summer dormancy is equivalent to winter dormancy in other climates, so perhaps I need to change my expectations. There are still plenty of the dark bees from the original queen left in the hive, but the lighter bees, which were never entirely absent, are staring to become noticeably more numerous.