This week I could finally go out and check on my bees since I buttoned them up in the fall. I went out with some jugs of sugar syrup and the feeder boxes. Some people feed their bees all winter, but where my two hives are located I couldn’t really get to them all winter. Also, I left them a bunch of their own honey to feed on, since I knew I would be able to get out there for some time.
I really didn’t know what to expect. Both hives had some hive beetles in them at the end of last season. This isn’t a death sentence, but it’s also not ideal. When I left them in the fall I crossed my fingers and toes that they could overcome the beetles during winter. I hoped for a lot of things really, but then I left it all to chance.
I had to get my truck fixed up before I could even get out there. I needed four new tires (which aren’t cheap when they’re for a truck!) and a new battery. I picked up the truck yesterday and ran home to get my bee equipment so I could go out to see the bees before my fiddle lesson.
Right now it’s Mud Season. Do you have a Mud Season where you are? It’s really crazy and gross here at the moment. If my truck didn’t have 4-wheel-drive I’d still be stuck out a my friend’s farm. Seriously, even with the extra power I had a few scary moments.
When I finally got out there I put my ear to each hive and knocked. Nothing from the first one. Absolutely nothing. I could hear a faint buzzing from the second but not the loud roar you’d hear in summer.
I pulled out the feeder boxes and syrup and filled the first one and made sure it was right next to the hive. It was a bit chilly and windy and I wanted to work quickly to keep the bees safe. I pulled off the lid and inner cover and there were some bees. One even came out and “pinged” me on my veil. I was elated. I put on the feeder box, inner lid, and cover and went over to the other hive.
I knocked again. Nothing. I opened the lid. Nothing. There were a few bees stuck in the comb, but most are probably scattered on the bottom of the hive. I wasn’t able to do a full inspection so I’m not sure yet why they died. The reality is I might never really know.
The living hive ended up getting the remaining syrup. The loss of the other hive ended up being their gain.
I felt a bit sad and defeated yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy that one hive made it, but a lot of time and money was put into that other hive. I also had grand plans for this summer. I hoped they’d regain momentum and I’d be able to split them out and create a new hive. That won’t happen now.
But self pity won’t move this fledgling farm ahead. I already put my order in for more bees. It’s horrible to wonder if I was the cause of that hive’s demise. I know they are insects and it probably seems foolish to mourn for them, but they really are incredible creatures. However, now is not the time to lose sleep over it. I can’t bring them back to life, I can only hope next winter is a little easier on my ladies.
Interested in keeping bees?
Erika’s Honeybee Sage is FILLED with great beginner information & links.
Here are Erika’s other Honeybee Saga Installments:
Part One: Let’s Start from the Beginning
Part Two: The Bees Have Arrived!
Part Three: Of Honey & Hope