Sunday, December 6, 2015

A BEEHIVE DISASTER

Yesterday I mentioned that we had an "issue" at the farm.  Friday evening, we received a call, a rather frantic call, from 2nd Family.  They had been walking up by our house and saw it...this is what greeted me as I drove in...


Beehive disaster
As a reminder, this is what they SHOULD look like...



Sigh...it was a definite disaster.  2nd Family said it happened sometime between Thursday late evening and Friday evening.  There was no wind (these hives survived 3 months of almost nonstop thunderstorms last Spring).  We doubt it was people because it's pretty remote and 2nd Family would know if someone was creeping around on the property (certainly their dogs would!).  We're not sure what kind, but most likely it was an animal who was maybe curious about the empty hive and because it's lighter weight (empty), it got pushed over.  I guess whatever did this didn't hang around as thousands of angry bees came flying out.  We're thinking raccoon as there are a couple of large ones we've seen. 


Tipped over beehive
It looks like the empty abandoned hive was the first one over, and because it was close enough to the active hive, it just pushed it over like dominoes.  I'm here to tell you, those bees were NOT happy.  I put my bee suit on and then, just my luck, couldn't get the smoker to work.  Everything outside was damp with morning dew (and Wednesday's rain) and I haven't ordered smoker pellets yet.  So I didn't really have any choice.  I just went in and did it.  My heart was racing, my adrenaline was pumping and I could hear the bees hitting my suit.  First I removed the empty one and its various components while angry bees followed me almost all the way to the barn.  

Then I uprighted the active one and went to pick up one of the "supers" not realizing it was upside down (the frames 'hang' inside the hive box).  When I lifted it, they started to fall out.  I quickly stopped but too late, this set off a barrage of bees.  I could feel them hitting the suit again and the buzzing sound was like something out of a movie.  I remembered my beekeeping lessons...always be gentle and use slow deliberate movements so I calmly walked away to gather my thoughts.  I came back about 30 minutes later and finished up, putting it all back together.  

Below is what it looked like after. 


I searched around the frames as I put it all back together and I "THINK" I found Queen Ariadne.  There wasn't much hive damage that I could see, no leaking honey.  All I could do was put it all back together and hope for the best.  If there is no queen, the workers will eventually live their short lifespan and with nothing to replace them, the hive will end.  We're hoping for the best of course, but we'll have to see what happens.

Beehive entrance
By the time I got ready to leave, they were busy going in and out, and everything "seemed" somewhat back to normal.  But of course, who knows WHAT is going on inside the hive.   Certainly some repair work!  We'll let them calm down and try to return to normal and check them out in a week or two.  

A life moment at the farm we'll have to learn from.  Not sure what we'll do to prevent this in the future, if we have to fence around the bee yard, somehow stabilize them with tiedowns or stakes, etc.


Never a dull moment!


Will catch up with comments later, we are off this afternoon because of the open house and have to leave for a couple of hours and after we get back, we'll meet with our realtor.


48 comments:

Tomato Thymes said...

Farming is hard work and challenging. Nature is always in control. However if it comes together, it can be rewarding.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Wow! What a shock.
As a beekeeper of 40 years may I make comment?
To minimise the risk of hives being blown over I rarely place hives more than 8 inches above the ground ( I use sturdy wooden stands, but breeze blocks do well too). I use national hives, which have a flat roof and in the winter when it looks like it might be very windy I place concrete slabs on the roof. With a different type of hive I think I would place bricks in the top empty super, around the the feeder. The higher the structure the more chance there is that it will be blown or knocked over. I take away any supers that don't need to be there. If you suspect it being knocked over you will need to think about a fence I guess. If the hive was knocked over by an animal and it was stung, there is every chance they wont be back! One of our dogs bumped into one of our hives this summer which put the bees on alert (they dont' like to be bumped) and was stung on his face... he hasn't been near since!
Good Luck
Gill in the UK

anne marie in philly said...

:(

I hope you helped the bees. we really need them.

Texan said...

I am just shocked that an animal would go near those beehives. I so hope your queen is ok and your hive can get itself back on a normal track! I am taking notes, on all of your bee dealings! You could put up a game camera, they are inexpensive. They will go months on one set of batteries. Just strap it to a tree or anything and it will auto take pics. Since they are weatherproof you don't have to worry about it just strap it up and leave it. You could see then what is going near your hives. You just take the camera card out and put it in your computer.. The cards will holds hundreds of photos...Honeyman has them in places on our property and its always interesting to see what we capture on them!

donna baker said...

Look for tracks in and around the area. You can usually figure out who or what it was. Bucks will rub the velvet from their antlers; usually on pine trees but have been known to use other things. They might be in rut down there. We can almost always figure out what has been about by walking around the place (sometimes even driving on the ATV.) So sorry. It is frustrating on the farm sometimes. Perhaps a small hog wire fence around it? Do you have black bears that far south?

Margaret said...

Oh boy, your heart must have just stopped when you saw those hives knocked over like that. I'm glad that the physical structures don't appear to be damaged & hopefully the queen is still safe and sound. When you said that 2nd Man was cleaning, etc. for the open house and you would be tidying things up at the farm, I thought you got the better part of the deal...now I'm not so sure!

Dawn McHugh said...

Our hives are strapped down to stakes in the ground, it stops freak gusts of wind taking the tops off, the hives are also in an area sheltered by hedges and trees, yours do look very much in the open, I cant offer any suggestions as to what caused it sorry.

DFW said...

So glad you got the active one put back together. Fingers crossed that the queen is still there & they get everything situated. I agree w/Texan about putting up an inexpesive game cam. It is pretty awesome to see what animals stroll by in the dark, & sometimes the daylight too.

John Gray said...

So sorry.. What a disappointment

Joani said...

Note to self. Order those pellets!

Gail said...

An old rag was what Dad always used, a thin cotton will smoke up a storm!

I am glad you were able to set things right again. They will be fine. Good Work!!!!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

a disaster indeed! it looks like you got it back together pretty well and people sure have some god advice. i hope the hive survives!

Elephant's Child said...

Fingers and toes crossed.

Delores said...

Do you have bears in your area?

Texan said...

Was telling honeyman about your adventure later today, he guess is wild hogs. We have them in spades here! Texas in general has them really bad. They are certainly more than strong enough and destructive enough to knock over your hives! He said well I guess we better build a fence around ours when we get them. I said well I guess we better!

Leigh said...

Good grief, what an adventure; for both you and the bees. You really did well with the situation! The worrisome thing is whether the queen survived. If, when you check, there's no evidence, would you be able to order an emergency queen from somewhere?

Warre hives are strapped down like Dawn describes, so I'm sure you could do that too. Or maybe a chain link dog yard!

jewlz said...

What a shock. Sure hope Queen lived, and am confident you'll find fixes for whatever may have gone wrong.

laurie said...

wow, that is amazing,, I thought you were going to say a bear did it,, thats what gets at our neighbors bee's,, I hope with all my heart it works out,, this is such a shame, tragedy, A very scary job putting it all back up too, wow!!!

1st Man said...

Thank you for those kind words, so very true! Thanks!!

1st Man said...

Thank you for sharing you knowledge. It's so awesome that beekeepers share their info and experiences I love that. Thank you for the tips. And 40 yrs of beekeeping? I'm 50 and just starting, I'll be 90 if I do 40 yrs ha. Share advice or tips ANYTIME we appreciate it.

1st Man said...

Thank you, I hope we did. We've certainly given them a second chance for sure!

1st Man said...

Thank you so much. There were no winds at all (it'e been gorgeous weather here) so it had to have been an animal. A beekeeping friend nearby said that deer never ever bother them, so I assumed raccoon. There are wild hogs in the area, though we've never had any of the ruts or other damage associated with them. I'll ask around out there and see if there have been some around. Tell honeyman (it's ok for me to call him that, right? LOL) that we appreciate that, we didn't think about it.

And I've been telling 2nd Man that we should get some trail cams, that would be neat to have out there. I guess the are motion activated? Will definitely look into that.

And a fence may have to be considered for us. We'll see what happens.

1st Man said...

I couldn't see any tracks around but to be honest, there were so many bees buzzing, and I had my suit on with the veil, I didn't look TOO carefully, ha. A hog wire fence, I will have to look into that. Thank you!!!

1st Man said...

It's VERY disheartening to see. no structural damage at all, thankfully. Yep, he DEFINITELY got the better end of the deal, ha. But I still had fun, all things considered.

1st Man said...

I am currently looking into that. I like the idea of stakes in the ground (though our ground is often wet after soaking rains). Hey you gave some great advice, we appreciate it!! Nice to know the straps and stakes work. We have trees around (some you can't see in photos) but you are right, we might need to purposely plant some hedge type bushes next spring. Thanks!!

1st Man said...

Thank you, it's back up and "hopefully" running. After y'all suggested it, (and others have too in past posts about critter cams) I think it's time to research some good ones. I'd love to just see what's prowling around, ha. OR maybe not, LOL!

1st Man said...

Aww, thanks! It is but I hope we have saved this hive at least.

1st Man said...

LOL! From your lips to my ears, thanks, off to order. :-)

1st Man said...

Wow, thanks for that. We have a basket full of old used (but cleaned, ha) white undershirts we use for misc throw away things to clean and do windows, etc. Sometimes the old methods are the best!!

1st Man said...

Thank you, that's what we love about everyone we've "met" online through this blog (yourself included!) such good advice or even words of encouragement.

1st Man said...

I'd cross my eyes but my mom said they would stay like that, ha. thanks!!

Quinn said...

Poor bees! I hope they recover after their upset.
Around here, bears are a problem with hives, but it's unlikely a bear would leave the hives in as good shape as yours. A friend used a couple of strands of electric fencing all the way around his hive area, and I don't recall exactly the level of power but I remember being surprised at how high he said it had to be to discourage a bear.

1st Man said...

OH, and about the bears, GOD I HOPE NOT! LOL!

1st Man said...

God I hope not. We have coyotes and deer and wild hogs and rumors of a fox or something, but no bears, thankfully!

1st Man said...

Yes, it was bit much to tackle, at least when looking at it because you kind of think "what can I possibly do to fix this?" I checked the local bee place and no queens right now, it's too cold for them to be breeding the bees (or so they say). But I've got a 'standby' replacement package ready for next April (I had already ordered one for the replacement of the other hive and they closed their ordering but said for me just mention it next spring and they'll get me a replacement.

A dog yard fence is not a bad idea...thanks!!!

1st Man said...

We hope she did too. It won't take too long to tell. Still lots of activity today so far so good. Thank you!!

1st Man said...

Thankfully no bears down this way. Bees are already suffering so much, I hate when we try to help and have this happen but hopefully it will all work out. Thank you!!!

1st Man said...

They are probably still ticked off but hopefully calming down, ha. I never thought about some electric fencing, that would certainly look better (and be much more affordable) than regular fencing. No bears, thank goodness!! Thanks for the tip, we'll look into that!

Alison said...

My heart leapt into my mouth as I saw the picture. I thought someone had stolen your honey. And while I am sick to think that you had such a disaster, I'm glad it *was* an animal and not human intervention. You are very brave; even with a suit I'd have been terrified to do what you did. I'm glad you were able to make things right. Good luck!

beachdaddy said...

Hi ... So sorry about this ... Is there a way to secure the boxes all together and to the legs... like with bungy cords? (or duct tape...!!!) .. I don't know how these things work but seems like something to try. Also before you bring the empty boxes back ... what are the chances of building them back with plexiglass on one side so you can see what's going on inside? Or do they like the dark? Good luck!! And you were damned brave doing all that work without the smoker!!! I bet you stopped on the way home for pellets!!!

Texas Rose said...

Awww, your poor bees - and you too. What a terrible experience. I’m glad you were able to repair the damage and hopefully the hive will survive.

1st Man said...

thanks sweet Alison!! We know about honey stealing from a local restaurant here that had beehive rustling! It was nerve wracking even with the suit. Thanks!!! Hugs to you!

1st Man said...

Ha, thanks for this. They actually make hive straps that do just that, secure them all together. Normally it's more common for windy areas but hey, animals I guess can be just as unpredictable as the wind. I've never thought about plexiglass...that's a fascinating idea. I might google that and see if anyone else has done that. That would be 10 kinds of awesome for sure.

I DID go online and ordered pellets today!!! :-)

1st Man said...

We hope so too, it didn't 'seem' too bad but you never know, the whole thing hinges on the queen.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Long time lurker here! Last year I went to Alnwick Castle Gardens in Northumberland, England. They had a beehive viewing area. There was a little garden hut, and when you went in, there were 2 sheets of plexiglass(or something) with the bees and honeycomb in between. You could watch the bees coming down a little plastic tunnel and moving around the 'hive'. It was brilliant. I've been looking, for a photo but couldn't find one, unfortunately.

Perhaps you could contact them, and find out a bit more?

JIll

Little Julie said...

Oh no!!! So hoping all is well inside and kudos to you for braving the angry little guys. My mother always said my big brother would wrestle a gorilla but drive into a tree rather than be stuck in the car with a bee! Wishing you the best of luck!

deborah harvey said...

hi.
probably not bears. it would have eaten the honey and the brood.
read not to use blue jeans cloth in the smoker. something in the dye makes them mad.
you can buy a super with a peeping window. they take kids on field trips where they watch the hive activity in just this way.
somewhere i have a book you would like. if i ever find it i will mail it to you. i used to read it to soothe myself.
about a lady beekeeper.

Texan said...

I think I have decided to get my bees this spring, so its been 2 yrs nearly since I took all my bee classes. I was looking at the sites to order the boxes and supplies. Its a bit overwhelming trying to think. So I looked through your site to see where you got yours etc. Very helpful. Did you order yours in kit form or did you buy individual components? I really like the looks over your hive/boxes. They are very pretty.