This post is a bit past-due, but I didn’t want to let it go unwritten since I know there are many watching the saga.
At the end of my first season as a beekeeper, I conducted one last check on the beehives before tucking them in for the winter with nothing more than some hopes for at least one hive survival in the spring (statistically, there is only a 50% chance for a hive in this area to survive the winter).
So… going back to September…
I checked on the busy ladies.
I checked on the traditional hive. There was a lot of action in that hive. It was filled to the top with healthy, active bees.
I searched for the queen, but was unable to locate her. I did, however, see all of the signs of a queen – larvae, eggs, capped brood, etc.
When I separated two of the supers, I accidentally ripped open some cells they had constructed in the space between. These cells contained some larvae. The bees scurried about to try to save the exposed larvae.
I also happily discovered large quantities of gold! Liquid gold! (Honey). I left all of the honey for the ladies in hopes it would help them sustain through the winter. A large robust hive in the springtime would lead hopefully to a huge honey harvest next fall. (The honey is capped off under the light colored wax).
While I was watching, I also witnessed a newly created bee coming out of his cell! It was very amazing to watch.
After a short while, I put the hive back together. There were so many bees, I had a difficult time pushing them all back in.
I try so hard to not sacrifice any lives.
I also checked on the “Hippie Hive” (top bar hive).
The hippie bees had been dying off at an alarming rate for several weeks, but no one could determine why. There were no signs of illness, disease, mites, etc. And there was a lot of established comb. Plus, there was still an active queen.
I studied some more.
I looked and searched.
There were no answers for me. The only thing I noticed consistently over the weeks was an occasional yellow jacket attacking the girls. I put up traps and caught a good number of the invaders, but none were ever present inside the hive. The bodies were being thrown out of the hive, so whatever was doing them harm had to be coming from the hive interior.
After I closed them all up and tucked them in, I started being chased by some angry bees. Perhaps I stayed too long. I ran off and once was clear of them, threw off my beekeeping shirt, hat and gloves as I went! Then I checked any bees that were still holding on.
They are now tucked in as safely as I could get them. I would consider it a huge stroke of luck if even one of the hives survives the winter. I am planning to order two new boxes of bees for the spring with hopes of building a bigger hive for 2013 and harvesting some sweetness to share.