Friday, October 18, 2013

We Lost One Of Our Hives.

Homesteading is not easy, nor is it always sunshine and roses like some blogs would have you believe. I feel it is important to share our mistakes and set backs so others can learn from our experiences and realize it is okay to mess up and not get it right the first time or in this case the second. That said I love what we are doing, and can't wait to add more plants and animals to the property.

I realized the traffic in one of our two hives had changed in the amount and nature. I noticed the hive entrance was not being guarded and the amount of bees coming and going had diminished. None of the bees going in the hive had collected pollen and when I looked under the hive I did not see any bees bearding the comb. 

When I opened the hive my suspicions were confirmed. The hive had swarmed. I am not sure if the queen died and they had to raise a new one or they did a split. Whatever happened they had to raise a new queen. Here is what a queen cell looks like. Instead of the uniform hexagons bees normally make, queen cells look more like a mud wasp made them. I found other smaller queen cells around the comb, but I am pretty sure this is the one the new queen emerged from. All the other cells were much smaller than this one, leading me to believe the queen that came out of this cell went around and made sure there were no usurpers in the wings.

This is all that was left in the hive, a handful of dead bees. I have no idea what happened, maybe the hive was stressed and they left after the split. Whatever it was it happened fast. In a normal hive dead bees are cleaned out regularly, so to see so many dead bees left behind makes me scratch my head. All the honey and pollen was completely clean out. I am sure the swarm took most of it and the bees I saw coming and going were robbing what was left. If any bee keepers out there have a theory on what happened please comment down below.

On a happier note, the new comb guides are working much better than the original design I went with. The comb is nice and straight for the most part and no significant cross-combing happened. You can see the comb on the right of this picture was starting to curve a bit into the next bars but that small amount of movement is easy to fix.


You can see the new comb design here. I used cove molding with a 90 degree angle to give the bees a more defined guide. I am not as discouraged as I was last year when this happened. Maybe because I lost both my hives last year. But mainly because of a podcast I heard about capturing local swarms and how easy it is. I plan on making a couple swarm traps to use in the spring. In the meantime I am going to focus my energy on keeping our other hive healthy through the winter. I am going to feed them this year, hoping they will make it through. If not, I will try my best to catch a couple locally adapted swarms in the spring.

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