Today was a sad day indeed.....we discovered that our bees were dead.
I'd suspected for a week or so that something was amiss, as I could hear no bees "doing their thing" inside the hive. There weren't any bees flying around despite them seeming quite active a couple of weeks ago. Today Colleen and I opened up the hive to see what was going on.
Quite simply, they didn't have enough honey to survive the winter and they starved.
We were somewhat afraid that would happen because they were started so late in summer
last year. There was an enormous
number of flowers last year and I am sure the bees made all the use of it they could, but quite simply they couldn't make enough honey. I had seen them flying around in late January/early February when the weather was good, but there wasn't anything out there for them to make honey out of.
Looking at the various bee-keeping magazines and such as it turns out this isn't at all unusual...a large number of bee-keepers lose their first hives.
But we have learned from the experience and Colleen wants to try again, so she's already ordered another hive due in May. Of course we can't say how the flower situation will work out this season, but we do know
what we can
- We'll get the bees a good month earlier than we got them last year, so they'll be able to get a start earlier on doing what they do best.
- We're going to give the bees just the one super (basically that's the square box that has usually eight or ten honeycombs inside). This will help force the bees to not do too much, focus on building comb and honey for this one, and gives them a specific area to work on. If they are doing well we'll add another one later in the summer.
- We'll be starting the sugar water feeder immediately when they are unboxed. Last year there were so many flowers and consequently so much nectar out there than Colleen honestly didn't think a sugar water feeder would be needed, and so we probably missed when the nectar flows went down but the hive numbers had increased. By providing them with sugar water from the very beginning and refilling it regularly they'll always have something to fall back on.
In the meantime while we're waiting for the bees to arrive I'll be doing some work to get their hive refurbished. I'm adding wheels to the stand/hive so I can move it around if need be--I discovered several times during the summer last year when I wished I could move the hive to clean an area, position them better, etc. We can leave all of the existing comb in the hive as new bees apparently find them as ready made apartment and hence it's less work for them to start using them, which is good. And we're also of course laying in a good stock of sugar so we can steadily make sugar water as needed of course.
The new hive arrives in mid- to late-May. We'll be ready; we're going to work like the devil to not lose them again!
Steven in Coloardo
My Construction Website
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