Alas, the fear I had this past fall has been realized, the Kitty Hive has failed. The above photo is the last one I have of the hive alive. On January 1, I could hear some activity in the hive, but I have put my ear up to Kitty twice in the last two weeks and both times the hive has been silent. I had hoped it was just that they were tucked deep inside, but today we got confirmation. Mr. Neil checked the hives this afternoon and with the warm weather, the Olga hive was dumping out dead bees and pooping. The snow around her hive was completely melted. Kitty was silent with no visible activity and the snow was not melted around the hive. He opened the roof, looked in and found all bees inside to be dead (on the upside, that's not Colony Collapse Disorder).
We expected complete failure our first year, and were pleased as punch that we got as far as we did this fall, including harvesting a wee bit of honey from Olga. But, I still feel bad and will miss our girls. After all, they were the ones who I installed after my initial panic and unlike Olga, none of us have ever been stung by a Kitty bee.
I also got some of my best photos from the Kitty Hive. I loved the above shot of all the Kitty workers coming to lap up a river of honey that surged down a frame when I accidentally opened some cells. Kitty, you taught me lots. I'm sorry we couldn't keep you through the winter.