This week, my bee mentor Tom came over and we opened up the Warre hives to see what had happened. There was no honey left in the combs - the bees had devoured it all and starved. If you look closely at the bottom cells in this photo of the comb you can see little bee butts - many of the bees had gone into the cells headfirst, probably trying to keep warm.
I felt so, so terrible. Last fall when we harvested the honey, we thought we had left ample honey to get them through the winter, but it has been a strange winter, unusually warm the entire season. Warm winters are harder on bees than cold years because the bees never really go into hibernating mode and being somewhat active, have to consume more food to keep warm.
It's supposed to be a warm weekend coming up, so tomorrow I will check to see whether they have been consuming the honey.
I am very sad to have lost the two Warre hives, but on the positive side, it will give me a chance to shore up the hive. The fellow who built the Warre hives for me used nails to construct the hives and should have used screws. Some of the corners sides have already begun to pull apart. Now I can glue the edges and reinforce the corners with screws. Maybe I will even repaint the hives in a whimsical design -if I have time. Two new packages of bees are on order and will arrive in one month!