{the honeybee saga} Returning to the Hives

How the hives looked when I got out there. Each had 3 medium hive bodies over the winter.
How the hives looked when I got out there. Each had 3 medium hive bodies over the winter.

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.

Everything looks a little "blah" outside right now.
Everything looks a little “blah” outside right now.

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 hive on the left has its feeder box on it now. It's made of heavy styrofoam and is filled with sugar syrup for the bees to eat until things begin to flower.
The hive on the left has its feeder box on it now. It’s made of heavy styrofoam and is filled with sugar syrup for the bees to eat until things begin to flower.

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.

All bottled up!
All bottled up!

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



7 Comments Add yours

  1. We have always kept one hive in our backyard. This may be the second year out of five or six winters that we have been able to keep the hive alive and well. We weren’t queenright for a couple winters, and just dead for a couple winters. We’re at 47 deg F and sunny today, and the girls seem very numerous and crazily flying around here — we’re in central Iowa. Wishing your hive the best —

  2. mawarre says:

    Where I live (my friends have bees) the weather never gets cold enough to even have to consider what you have to do with your bees over the winter. I hope you can get a new hive buzzing (sorry for the pun). I’ loving reading about the spring awakening where you all live and compare it with the suddenly crisp autumn mornings and blessed relief from humidity that we are experiencing in this part of the world.

  3. Erika T. says:

    Thanks to the both of you! Yeah it’s a little tricky here with the cold. On the flipside I don’t want to have them so bundled so that they overheat if the weather is more mild. This is why I’m doing more of them this next year in a place I can get to more easily in winter. I’m still so glad that the one was ok though.

  4. My condolences! We live in Northern VA, and our landlord also had his two hives die this winter. Like you said, we have no idea why; it was a chilly winter at times, but it was never below freezing for a long period of time and the combs were chock full of honey. I guess we’ll never know…

  5. lauralayne says:

    I have always wanted to visit a place that makes honey. It is so fascinating! This is so cool that you are doing it in your backyard. Maybe one day, I will be adventurous enough to try and and use your tips!

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    web as compared to textbooks, as I found this piece of writing at this web page.

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