Monday, October 5, 2015

WE LOST A HIVE


We knew this was a possibility when we started beekeeping.  Things don't always work out though.  Sadly, we lost one of our hives.


This is "Persephone" hive...I noticed there was no activity around the entrance...NOT a good sign.  So I took the top off...

Empty, abandoned hive
...and found this.  It looks almost like a new hive.  It might as well be because they never even moved up into this "super".  Just a few random bugs that decided an empty hive made a good new home.  

Below is the lower section, called the "brood box"...

Dead hive
...you can see where they built out honeycomb but it was all for nothing.  I tried to do a post mortem on the hive but there was nothing to find.  There were no hive beetles, no invading pests that I could find.

 The hive next to it, "Ariadne" is just fine.

Beehive
Lots of bees going in and out (always a good sign)...

Bee with pollen basket
And here is a lovely lady coming in laden down with pollen doing what she (and the others) are supposed to be doing.  You can stand next to it and literally hear it buzzing with activity.  

So, we're not sure what happened.  The empty hive was just that, empty, abandoned.  A few dead bees in the bottom but not the hundreds you'd expect to find. It is not unlike the description of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) that is affecting beekeepers around the world.  This hive has been weak from early on.  It could be a weak queen who died before they could create a new one?  Or perhaps they swarmed when we weren't around to see it?  

So, a bit of a bummer BUT we still have another strong hive that we need to see through the Winter and help it start the Spring healthy and strong so we can get our first honey next year.  

Now I just have to take apart the empty hive, clean it, and store it away.  I'll have details on that when I do it.  There are special instructions (thank you JM!) on how to do that the best way for future use.  Oh, and we need to order another bee package for next year.

For now, it's onward and upward!


38 comments:

Dawn McHugh said...

Thats a shame, we lost two hives this year to wasps, you might need your empty hive for taking a swarm off your remaining hive next year. :-)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

the lost colony. what a mystery.

Practical Parsimony said...

Still cannot post a comment! I am not complaining, just noting I am not replying to Jaz.

I am shocked! I know how disheartening it is for you.

FionaG said...

So sorry. Is it possible that they have swarmed and are close by? I have a neighbour who had that happen but he was able to collect them en masse and put them back in the hive. The bees hadn't travelled far at all cause they were ladened down and dopey from eating all their honey first.

Marcia said...

Sorry to hear this. I guess once you are living out there full time you'll be able to monitor it more closely though it can still happen.

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry. Glad that the other hive is doing well, but still sad for the lost one.

Elephant's Child said...

PS: From total ignorance I am wondering whether if the queen died, the bees could have moved next door?

Colleen said...

Sorry, but I also had also had to use the 'reply' button.
What a shame. So sorry to hear that. I guess that's all part of nature no matter what we raise, grow, etc. Sometimes things just happen that are unexplainable.
Was thinking the same thing as Elephant's Child. Nice to see that the other hive is doing well and has lots of activity going on.
Colleen

Delores said...

So sorry to hear you lost your honey makers.

lynney62 said...

Question......after you clean this "lost hive", can you use it again to start over with a new group of bees? Probably a silly question but I know nothing about bee hiving. :)

Bonnie said...

This happened to us last year. We reordered two new packages and hived them this spring. We fed them and used Honey B Healthy all spring in their feed and provided them a water source. So far so good. Sounds like the bees absconded. They do that if for some reason they're not happy in their environment. Do you do weekly hive inspectins? Always a good idea to make sure the queen is laying and hat your hive a queen right.

Texas Rose said...

Ohh, so sad. Sorry for the loss of the hive.

Quinn said...

I hope they just moved to a nearby location, and maybe you will have them back one day!

Texan said...

Well shoot, so sorry to hear this...

1st Man said...

Thanks! There was a wasp nest nearby, well a few hundred feet away, in a tree. But wouldn't they have hit both hives? I was thinking of using it for next year but I was going to order another anyway, so I will have to decide what to do. Good idea though, thank you!!!

1st Man said...

I guess I should have named the hive Jamestown....HA!

1st Man said...

Thank you Linda, gosh i wish I could figure out what is going on. It worked for a few days. Guck to the drawing board. :-( Thanks for the thoughts, it's bizarre for sure. I'mg sign to chalk it up to the nature of beekeeping and hope next season is better.

1st Man said...

They could have swarmed, but honestly, I might expect that from the other hive because it's SO busy with activity and dozens of bees going in and out. I'm guessing it was more just a weak hive. If they did swarm, I was mowing all over the property and would have seen something if they were nearby. It's disheartening but not unexpected. Unfortunately. :-(

1st Man said...

Yep, but still many beekeepers go for two weeks or more at times between checking them. All we can do is watch for swarming I suppose. Eye on the sky as they say, ha.

1st Man said...

Thank you. It's extremely rare for bees to move to another hive. They are bonded (pheromones I'm sure) to their queen and will follow her either out and away to someplace else, or in death they will just die after she does (worker bees have a very short lifespan, mere weeks). And one queen will rarely take over another hive, it would be a battle to the death I think for both hives.

Thank you both (and Colleen I will have to try something else, sigh, I'm sorry, it's weird that only a few are having problems I have to find the common denominator, hang in there, just post ever how you can, we don't mind!).

1st Man said...

Thank you!!

1st Man said...

NOT a silly question, heck I had to ask a beekeeper friend myself! You can reuse the boxes, but those frames and wax foundations will have to be trashed (they are the least expensive parts of the hive). That's just in case they have any sort of bugs, contagion, etc. The boxes we scrub with water (NO soap or bleach, as it could leach back into the hive later on when it's reoccupied). Not a silly question at all. I'll take them apart and clean them out well, let the dry very well and put them up until next season.

1st Man said...

Thank you for the info. Not weekly, more every other week. It was slower than the other but the queen was laying, just not as profusely. Not sure. Hey, I'll try again, that's how we learn, right? Ha. Thank you for the great info!

1st Man said...

Thank you dear lady!!

1st Man said...

Was hoping that but I didn't see them anywhere. Of course, a very kind beekeeper friend of mine said that if his bees swarm, he just feels that they are doing something good by going back into the wild to possibly help keep up the wild bee population. Glass half full!! :-)

1st Man said...

Yeah, dang it. But it does happen. Hey, maybe this is my one time, get it out of the way early, ha. Thanks!!

Midnite Baker said...

Sorry for your loss...

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Have you checked around to see if they may have moved out into a nearby tree?
You can always recapture if you see them.
Every time we start something new we learn things, consider this a learning experience and continue on.
Hugs,
Sandy

Alison said...

I am sad that you lost your bees. I admire your spirit of perseverance and willingness to try again. Wishing you success with your next (ad)venture.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to learn that you have lost one of your hives. This has happened to me in the years I have kept bees. Some times there are lots of dead bees and other times the bees have absconded. I use the chambers again after cleaning them with either a blow torch or hot air paint stripper. Wax I put in the freezer for a couple of days mainly to kill any wax moth. Good luck for your bee keeping next year. Gillian.

DFW said...

Sorry to hear this. But as you've stated, this is all a big learning experience right?

1st Man said...

Aww, thanks for that!

1st Man said...

I was all over on the zen machine and I never saw them (was keeping my eyes open for them). I think they either swarmed far away or just died off over the course of a couple of weeks. But yep, I learn this year to better it next year.

1st Man said...

Thank you sweet Alison. We'll see what happens next year and hey, we still have one hive to guide through the winter.

1st Man said...

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience. This is all new for us and from what i understand, it does happen from time to time. We learn from our experience, right? come back and share yours if you see a place to share. :-)

1st Man said...

Yep, we learn and move forward and do better (hopefully!) the next time, ha. Thanks!!!

Leigh said...

I was so dismayed when you mentioned losing one of your hives. Very odd innards! Somewhere I read that bees will drift to other hives, even "visit." I wonder if Persephone (or part of Persephone) simple moved in with Ariadne? Like, perhaps they somehow lost or had a failing queen so they went to the queenright hive? Of course, my beekeeping experience is no longer than yours, so I'm guessing!

So glad you went with two hives to start. I can't wait to add more to my apiary.

1st Man said...

Hi there! Aw, thanks for that. I wondered too if the queen died and they 'moved' next door? I suppose I won't ever know that answer, ha. I am glad we had two as well. It shows me that I didn't do anything wrong, at least that I know of, because I treated both the same way. Was going to have two more hives next season (four total) but we've decided to keep it at two until I can keep two hives going through a full season, ha. I'm about to order another package for next season. Thanks, I am watching yours with interest as well, I love that style of hive you have.