A snapshot of the Top Bar Hive just before the blizzard.
I like to check on the bees when it's cold and the cluster is contracted, to get an "accurate" idea of how big the colony is. Three weeks ago they were on combs 8–16. Here they are on 6–15.
|The cluster shrinks and expands, shrinks and expands, but so far seems only to have moved onto the 15th comb, the one marked with an H (for honey, of course).|
Solarbeez pointed out a thread on the biobees forum that gives a formula to calculate colony growth as:
Daily Max°C * 22.894^1,4254 = Eggs Laid per Day
Seemed like an good wintery thing to do, so I ran the numbers. In the 3 weeks leading up to Presidents' Day, according to the formula the TBH queen should have laid 12,189 eggs. Given than one of our combs (both sides) is about 4,000 cells, my queen doesn't follow rules, or this formula runs a bit high.
I think, for Winter purposes, a more accurate result is given using this formula instead:
Daily Median°C * 22.894^1,4254 = Eggs Laid per Day
By the formula above, the queen should have laid 8,350 eggs, or just over 2 combs of colony growth. Right on! I'll be using this modifed formula to monitor my colonies' growth for the rest of the Winter. You can do the same, even if you don't have a temperature sensor, using an online weather almanac. If you're not into doing Bee Math, then I recommend brushing up on Bee English instead.