Earlier in the week I made it into the hives for the first inspections of the year. Each inspection took a while as there was a lot of cleaning up to do. A whole winter's worth of wax and propolis doesn't clean up easily. Everything was stuck together and there was a mess of bees, wax, etc. in the bottom that needed to be cleaned up.
I modified my management style this year. Last year I was so excited to get the colonies built up that I started feeding sugar syrup and pollen patties in about the middle of March. The populations increased quickly, and by the time summer was coming on I was trying to prevent swarming. With all of the hive manipulations to keep them from swarming both hives ended up going queenless for a good part of the summer. This year I decided to hang tight and only feed them bee candy to keep them from starving.
So here we are in the middle of April and I have seen pollen coming for about a week and the bees have been doing orientation flights for quite a while. As I dug through the hives I found quite a bit of honey and a fair amount of pollen left from last year as well as new pollen from this spring. Both hives have good healthy populations with eggs, larva, and capped brood. I am glad I haven't been feeding sugar syrup or the numbers would be booming way too early.
This first photo shows a few bees on a frame with a small bit of honey.