I know it happens to every beekeeper, but that doesn’t lessen the blow when it happens to you. Rachael sent me a message that she has bad news. When she does this I tell her no thank you. Why on earth would I want bad news? If I have the choice to ignore her bad news i take it. If she wants me to respond to her texts, she should try something she like, “I heard there is free cake.” I will jump on that like a pup on a liver treat. Pups are gross. Liver is never a treat and I am not sure why they think it is. See what I did there? Once again I am avoiding bad news. I could go on and on about liver treats just to avoid the fact that we have lost a colony. Rachael and I speak at least once a day, so I can’t avoid her or her bad news for very long. The colony we lost was the last one we had acquired and named Clarice. Yes, I named her after the Silence of the Lambs movie. That might be where I went wrong. I just did that because I loved saying the name in that creepy Anthony Hopkins voice. I will not be doing that again.
Rachael had gone out to her far field, where the bee boxes are setup, and noticed a few dead bodies in the entry way of the box. This is definitely a bad sign, since bees are very clean creatures, and they would have disposed of the bodies immediately. Unfortunately there was no one alive to clean the hive. Rachael opened the box to see if there was anything obvious such as disease or pests. No, just a lot of dead bees. They had some capped honey, but certainly not a lot. I spoke with a fellow beekeeper who gave us the swarm last Spring, and he said the most likely cause was starvation. It’s odd to think they might have starved when they had a bit of food, but between the cold and lack of food, they most likely were not strong enough to keep the colony warm and forage for food as well. The other two colonies we have, Althena and Beatrice, are still going strong, but just as a precaution we gave them some sugar water to be sure they have plenty of food.
We will be cleaning out Clarice’s box, burning the inside of the super, and disposing of the frames. They were older frames anyway, and replacing them is pretty cheap at only around $4 each. We are burning the super to be sure any pests and disease are not carried over to the next swarm we get.
Lesson learned i guess. We were trying to let the bees do what they do naturally and be more hands off, but unfortunately that comes with risks. Right now I would rather spoil our bees than let them die. I color my hair and I wear make-up, I don’t feel a need to go the natural route all the time. If I did I would have hollowed out a log with my handmade ax and lured the swarms in with natural oils I made from the plants I grew myself from the seeds I harvested from the woods. Since we bought the suppers and frames, and Rachael and her hubby Jeff, built the stand the sit upon, I think we can give our sweet bees a little help once in a while.