Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) includes several different species that are native to Eastern North America, China, and Japan ranging in colors from yellow to red that bloom during winter on bare branches after the leaves have fallen. Looking around our northwest gardens the species we typically find are from Japan (H. japonica) and China (H. mollis) or crosses between the two. The American species start blooming in late fall between October and December, and the Asian species typically bloom between January and March. They start blooming while the previous years seeds are still on the branches and thus get the Latin name hamamelis which means "together with fruit". The seed pods contain two black seeds and will pop when mature throwing the seeds a short distance away. When not showing off their impressive winter blooms, they have attractive soft green leaves in summer. They need to be planted in a sunny or mostly sunny spot that has fertile soil, and will also need regular watering during dry summer months.
Hive checks (1/6/2015)
Today was around 53F and did visual entrance activity checks on the hives.
- Rose, Rosemary Daughter, Ballard Daughter, Rosemary, Solis and Dyno all had entrance activity.
- The Ballard hive didn't have any activity but did have a robber or guard bee hanging around the entrance.
The weather was so-so today and a few bees where flying from Rose, Rosemary Daughter, Ballard Daughter, Rosemary hives.
- There was no activity in the Ballard hive, so I pulled the back frame and there they were, and sadly they weren't equally as happy to see me. I pulled the last frame of comb (empty) out and replaced it with a frame of honey and added a cup or so of dry sugar in the back. Usually they are like kittens during inspections so I'm second guessing that something is wrong other than they really didn't want to see me today. Perhaps it's a lack of food or maybe the queen is dead. Will need to wait for a bit nicer weather to investigate further and for now I know they have food and hope they have a queen.
- Rosemary hive also got a frame of honey. They had an empty bar in the back so there was room for another comb of honey. Rather than putting it in the very back placement I moved it one frame in (there was still honey on that frame, but not the back side. This way they will be able to cluster around the new frame if they should need it, although the cluster looked to be covering several frames forward.
There are several frames of bees and they have a good amount of stores left. I did not see the queen or signs of the queen.
Same situation as the sister in the Rose Nuc. There are several frames of bees and they have a good amount of stores left. I did not see the queen or signs of the queen.
The broodnest extends over 5 frames and is at least double the size it was when I inspected in early December. The brood nest starts 6 frames in from the entrance. One concerning issue I saw is that they have what looks to be a supersedure cell on a frame. The angle of the cell made it very difficult to see into it to determine if there was anything in there besides royal jelly and sadly the photos I did get only add to the uncertainty, but I doubt they would waste royal jelly on an empty cell this time of year. I saw a few drones in the hive, but I doubt there would be many other hives around with drones for mating. However if you need a new queen, then you have to try. Fortunately the old queen is still going, so they likely wont get rid of her until she gives out or they have confirmed the new queen is laying well.
There were hardly any stores left in the hive and I have them several frames of honey on each side of the broodnest. There was a tiny patch of brood and many cells with eggs in them. There aren't a lot of bees left in this hive but they are trying.
This nuc is full of bees and they looked to be in good shape. They have good stores and the broodnest covers 3 frames.
They are alive but struggling. I cleaned a lot of dead off the bottom of the hive. Didn't see much of a brood area but did see the queen. They have a few frames of bees and good stores. Bottom of the hive was damp and opened another ventilation hole. This hive is in a damp location in general.
Saw the queen and a small patch of eggs. They have a few frames of bees and have plenty of stores. Lots of dead bees on the bottom of this hive as well that I cleaned out. Sadly I also saw a small yellow jacket trying to get in!