Tuesday, August 9, 2016

DEATH OF A BEEHIVE

This WAS our surviving beehive, about a year and a half old.  When I got to the farm and walked over to check on the ladies, this is what I was met with.  

NOOOOO!!!!

Dead beehive
...not a pretty sight.  Those are dead bees.  And liquid running out.  Gross.  It was all I could do not to just start pulling parts off without wearing the bee suit.  There were a few bees buzzing around and they weren't happy, that's for sure.


Here is the backside...

The whole area smelled of fermented honey.  Have you ever had "mead"?  It smelled like that.  I checked the liquid (by touch and smell only) and it was mostly honey but much like water.  I guess honey is close to 20% water and exposing it to the heat of the sun turned it more into a liquid.  

Of course I hoped that perhaps there was a way to save it so I immediately got the bee suit on and took the top off.  I'll spare you that picture, suffice to say it was some live bees, maggots and ruined comb.  No way to know if the queen was even still alive...it was pretty much a disaster inside.  The entire upper portion had broken and leaked and flooded everything three levels below.

It's a pretty startling setback...and yes, I felt like a failure.  I do believe I may bear responsibility as I had not yet harvested honey and the hive just may have gotten too full. The bees have to have room to be able to cool their hive and I didn't give them that.  The hive also sits in full sun and we've had heat index temps of over 110 degrees many days.  I've read that most of the time that doesn't matter, but there are reports of hive comb melting in other states, perhaps it was just the right combination of everything. 

It's a mess for sure.  I'm not even sure how many of the hive parts are salvageable.  Maybe it just has some bad vibes and it's time for new if we do it again.  Which of course bring us to the big question...


Do we do this next Spring?  
Do we "try, try again" as the saying goes?  
Relocate to a semi-shaded area?
If we do opt in again do we have two hives or one?
Or do we just chalk it up to lesson learned and move on to something else?

We haven't quite decided yet...it's too soon to just jump right back in and make that decision, we have time to think about it.  There is other stuff to focus on, not to mention take a break with a majority of outside working for the rest of the month (and a Fall garden to start planning).  

We order the bees in the Fall for pickup early next Spring.  That seems like a long way off but about six months from now is February and we'll be getting ready for Spring planting again!

RIP Ariadne and your hive, sorry for not doing our best!


42 comments:

Margaret said...

Oh, that's so sad! As you say, still a bit of time to weigh the options. You have learned so much since you first started out...my vote is for another try with one hive in a shady area.

Susan said...

Bee husbandry is a very frustrating business. There are so many things that can and do go wrong - both in your hands and out of them. I vote for "Carry On" - find a new spot with good air circulation and shade and start a new hive or two. Don't give up!

kymber said...

i feel terrible for you because i know how terrible you feel. check out Patrice at the blog Rural Revolution - she is a new beekeeper and she just lost her hives to a yellow-jacket infestation.

my recommendation is to wait until you can be at the farm full-time....that way you will learn all the day-to-day nuances of bee husbandry and will be able to catch problems as they happen. i am not trying to discourage you at all.

again - i am very sorry! sending you a lot of love! your friend,
kymber

Dawn McHugh said...

Semi shade I would say, I am assuming you are able to check the hives on weekly basis, our hives sit in semi shade, perhaps go with one hive through the winter and next year see if it swarms or set up the second as a bait hive, but if you cant check on it on a regular basis then perhaps wait until you are there full time.

Colleen said...

So very, very sorry about what has happened. Never give up hope. Try again someday.
I agree with kymber and was exactly what I was going to suggest; start up again but wait till you are at the farm full time so that you will be able to check on the bees on a day to day basis.
We All learn by mistakes.
Maybe you might want to consider on taking classes; learning from others, picking up important tips, suggestions, etc. I would check with Tractor Supply cause I do know that some do hold classes on bee keeping but don't know about all. If Tractor Supply in your area don't hold classes, check around and you just may find a place in your area that does hold classes.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

that's very sad. live and learn i guess. hives around here usually sit right at the edge of a wooded area.

Anne in the kitchen said...

I am sorry for your loss and also the area's loss. You may have just experienced hive collapse, which I read about happening. I hope the queen escaped with a few minions. I admire anyone who will take on the challenge of bee keeping. I still wish we had a "neighborhood" hive for the pollination. When we move to the lake full time it is something I want to investigate doing. Like you said, you have time to make your decision about another, or not

Practical Parsimony said...

Probably not harvesting it and the sun were contributing factors. Ask someone who is an expert. Backward Beekeeper site has people who can answer questions. Plant crepe myrtle, the kind that gets 20 feet high. Several of those on the south and west side would provide great shade. They grow fast and provide a great canopy for sitting under, so maybe it would be good for bee shade. That would be easier than moving the whole base of rocks and all. Don't give up on this worthy venture. When you have chickens, you will know pain eventually!

Anonymous said...

Lots of good advice here, but I suspect you had already read all you could lay your hands on, including County Extension materials on beekeeping. Raising living things, whether children, pets, or bees, is full of risks, but one hopes that the rewards will negate the sleepless nights and tears. Loving thoughts are sent your way, that your cup will soon overflow with honey and happy bees!

Kev Alviti said...

I'm going to be frank with you. Everything with stock is a learning curve, sometimes that can be quite steep like you've had with your bees. I've kept sheep the majority of my life and each year I'm a better shepherd but each year I make some mistakes, one this year was that sheep got in with the lamb food and ate itself to death. I felt really bad about it and questioned whethe I should still keep them, but do you know what? I've learnt so much from that bad experience and I'll never make that mistake again.
It's the same with your bee keeping, only I feel that keeping bees at the moment is even more important.
I say learn from this and be better next year. Don't give up, think of the experience you've gained already and the advice you can pass on.

Terri said...

Sorry to hear of your bee loss. Maybe check to see if there is a beekeeper's association nearby for some advice or help? My grandfather was a beekeeper and both he and my grandmother belonged to the Indiana Beekeeper's Association. I hope you try again eventually!

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry. And Ariadne and her hive know you DID do your best.

anne marie in philly said...

:(

Carla said...

Maybe you should wait on the bees until you live there full time. The expense and emotional toll is high.

Texas Rose said...

I am so sorry this happened. But nothing in Nature is ever certain. There are always variables that can complicate things. Get some shade for the hive and make sure there’s a good water supply nearby and try again when you feel comfortable about it.

1st Man said...

Thank you! Yep time is a good help for making decisions huh? Ha!!

1st Man said...

Thanks, definitely frustrating but as you said so many variables. Thanks again!!

1st Man said...

Thanks sweet Kymber! Yep, that thought is crossing my mind. I will check out the blog, thanks for that info too! Stay tuned!

1st Man said...

I think semi shade is best for us too, since it's so hot at times. I am out there, other than pouring rain weekends, out there every weekend at least throughout the year. So checking regularly is easy. Of course, this time, I put it off the last two or three weekends because it was so hot and I saw them flying in and out. I should have looked inside. That's my fault too. We learn! Thanks!!!

1st Man said...

Yep, we'll see what the future holds. I have taken a few classes, but I think a local group would be great. Thanks for the suggestion and definitely will check TS. (love that place, ha). Thanks again!!

1st Man said...

Yep, I think I place it too much in the full all day sun. I think some afternoon shade would be nice. I'll look around as I'm out there this month and see what looks good for the future!

1st Man said...

She may have and if she did, more power to her. I'd much rather her set up shop elsewhere than think I lost her completely.

Neighborhood hives are such a great idea. Thanks!!!

1st Man said...

Yep, I think you're right. I didn't give them the space they needed, though the heat might have been too much as well. I will check out the website. And i like the idea of crepe myrtles. Maybe I plant them this fall so they get established for next spring. Thanks for the kind words. Yep, I hear from friends about their chickens and I think I know what you mean.

1st Man said...

Well what a sweet comment. Thank you so much. It means a lot!

1st Man said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that. I think I'd be a basket case if that happened, ha. But you are right and your words are very profound. "A better shepherd every year" I will remember that. And you are right bees are so important now. Thanks again!

Linda said...

Oh how devastating! I just can't imagine. Not being a bee keeper myself and reading your thoughts and these comments, I vote for give it another try. I agree with moving the hive(s) to somewhere they get afternoon shade.

1st Man said...

I will try again, no worries there. Thanks for the kind words. I'm definitely thinking of seeking out a beekeepers association. Thank you!!

1st Man said...

Thank you!! That means a lot. I know some people in the world (no one here of course) think "they're only bugs" but they don't understand beekeeping and their importance. Thanks!!!

1st Man said...

I know.....thanks!

1st Man said...

I think about that, but as so many say, we have to build ourselves up for this kind of loss, the first is hardest, and while they never get easy, they do happen. We'll see how it goes....at least I have time to make an informed decision. T

1st Man said...

Oops, hit enter too quickly, that was supposed to end with "thank you again for the kind words". :-)

1st Man said...

Yep, you are definitely right about nature, she knows what she is doing, ha. Thanks, looking into shade options. Thanks!!

1st Man said...

Thank you, I think afternoon shade is most important in our area. I'm going to see what's recommended and do some scoping out as I'm out there over the next few weekends (to gauge "summer sun" before next summer). Thanks!!!

kymber said...

1st Man - i truly hope that you don't think that i was discouraging you. i soooo want you to succeed. someone else that can help you - HE is the bee king and he goes through ups and downs every year - but he is the bee king is Pioneer Preppy. he is listed in our blog roll...and his email is listed on his blog. he answers any and all questions from people that are truly interested in beekeeping. check him out - he may have some answers and pointers.

and again, i am truly sorry for how devastated you must feel. sending love to you both always. your friend,
kymber

Alison said...

One of the reasons I like reading your blog is, along with fun/happy/sad/gross/gack! dialogue that you generate, everyone else's comments are awe inspiring too. I always look for Kymber, Texas Rose, Anne in the Kitchen and others to see what wisdom/insight/witticism they have to offer. I love that we all want you to succeed and grow. I come here everyday, not just because you are my friend and you write well but to 'visit' them too.

I'm still sad about the bees, and I know you'll be a better beekeeper/shepherd in the future. I look forward to hearing from all of you in days to come.

Peace to everyone!

Alison

1st Man said...

No I totally understand. I need to hear all sides. I value your advice and I do need to look at that fact. But then I look at it might be a few more years and I'd rather have something established. At least with fruit trees and veggies, ha. We'll see. And thanks for the tip about PP, I will check hi out. Thank you so much your support ALWAYS means something to me.

1st Man said...

LOL! Thanks! I hope everyone you named read this, they have a fan in you! Thank you for your years of support and though we might not see each other as often as we'd like, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you.

Much love!

Tonya @ My Cozy Little Farmhouse said...

Oh no! So sorry FM :(

Leigh said...

Oh no! Oh no! I can't believe I missed this post (well, actually I can, because I've been dealing with a dying computer and trying to get a new one set up plus apples, apples, apples.) What a shock it must have been to find poor Ariadne in that condition. I would have cried. I agree with your idea to relocate in shade next time. I made sure mine had shade for the very reason of protecting them from our southern summer sun. Of course I lost mine for other reasons as you know. It's such a blow and really knocks the wind out of one's sails, doesn't it?

Leigh said...

My experience absolutely seconds everything Kev says, and I've learned more from mistakes and problems than I care to admit.

1st Man said...

Thank you.

1st Man said...

Hey, I understand completely, you have actual daily farm things to do. I did shed a tear or two. It's frustrating and shocking. We put so much time and effort into it don't we? Sorry about the loss of yours too. At the time, I was read to just give up for awhile but I think we have to get knocked down and get right back up. After reading both of your books, I know that we just keep moving forward, right? Thanks!!