The bees and I seem to have reached some form of an agreement. I worry over them, they let me occasionally have a visit in their hive and give the neighbors something to talk about, or they have me do a photoshoot (which also gets the neighbors talking). I’ve come to realize that except in an unusually odd year there isn’t going to be any honey production in my area, and I’m 95% certain that the substance they store away is based more on local hummingbird feeders than plants.
Regardless, they seem to be doing fine. After the aborted swarm attempt in 2017 when I fed them too heavily in early spring, I have opted to avoid feeding unless they are clearly in need of it. This year I fed all of 4 gallons of sugar water, yet they see to be doing about as well as they were this time last year. My theory is that by not feeding them they do their own colony size management in response to changing conditions, and my inputs are at best superfluous if not outright damaging.
But there are a couple of things that make sense for them. As we transition into the desert winter I’ve replaced the bottom board and removed the shades which kept the baking summer sun off of the hive – now the afternoon sun is a helpful heater before the nightly plunge in temperature.