While out there I visited a bee yard in Indianola, WA. My husband and I happened to be walking by when the beekeeper was opening his hives - great timing! Got to watch and ask questions. Big take-away was that the drought out there is affecting the bees. Normally at this time (blackberry flowering) the bees would be socking away nectar and making lots of honey. But the two hives we looked into were bone dry - lots of pollen, but little brood and no nectar, no honey stores. Bad.
The beekeeper I talked to said he thought he'd have to supplement - feed them sugar water, something he's never had to do before at this time of year. Yoiks.
Also saw an unusual thing - at another bee yard the hives had entrance holes drilled into the hive boxes - about 2" in diameter holes drilled into all the handle slots which faced front. Now why is that? Better circulation? The hive boxes also lay flat - no bottom board - on the stands. Against mice maybe? No one was around to ask.
Isn't it great how bees allow one to walk up to a complete stranger and ask probing questions? I love that.
I will ask about the drilled holes at my next central VA. beekeeper association meeting. We just got our new T-shirts with logos and everything. Cool.
Haven't checked my bees since getting home 2 nights ago- am anxious to see what's going on. From the outside looks pretty busy.