The local bee group is offering pollen cakes for sale this weekend. Before I made the effort to get there and possibly have a chance to get one or two, I decided to check on my last remaining hive. I hadn’t checked since before the Christmas week Arctic freeze, actually, when I installed the sugar board to feed them. It wasn’t very strong then, but I hoped that with 10 pounds of food, they would struggle through the winter and hopefully survive to thrive this spring. At first I just listened to try to detect a hum, no sound. I popped the outer lid and peeked under the inner lid to see if I saw or heard any activity or if they had eaten any of the sugar. No activity and no sound. Fearing the worst, I removed the sugar board and the bottom cover and only saw dead bees. So, my first year of bee keeping was a total failure.

That hive will be dismantled and the frames put in the freezer for a few days then sealed in black plastic contractor bags. One or two nuks of bees will be ordered from one of the local beekeepers and I will try again this spring with only one or two hives, much more knowledge, and in medium boxes that I can handle. That is going to leave 8 deep boxes some with new frames, some built out frames that Son 2 purchased that he can take for his use, or sell as he wishes. I will keep the medium boxes and frames to try to get a couple of hives thriving.

At least the two bears we saw on the farm this summer left them alone, so I guess our 12V charger is doing it’s job.

Poor Bees

The remaining hive doesn’t have as many bees as I would like with the winter now here. The past few days have be hovering between freezing and 40 f and windy with nights in the 20’s. I gave them all the stores I could scrounge from the hives that had been robbed and killed and added chunks of sugar bricks.

Today the first 10 lb sugar board was made. As soon as it is dry and we have a slightly warmer day next week, the board will be added to the hive and any bricks left added on top.

I don’t want to have to open the hive any more than absolutely necessary to add more sugar. I explored the Mountain Camp idea of just placing newspaper down and pouring loose sugar on it, but saw mixed reviews of the idea and my local friend said they would never do it that way again. To provide a bottom to my sugar board, I stapled on a queen excluder and placed a single sheet of newspaper on it with a hole in the center for the cluster to move up under to feed.

The frames that were brought up from the dead hives have all spent at least 3 days in the freezer, then placed back in the boxes and sealed in large bags to prevent wax moth destruction.

I hope that by keeping this hive fed and not opening it unless to add feed, they will survive the winter and become a strong hive next year. Then adding a second or third hive back will be explored using the built out frames and working with the medium boxes. I am disappointed with my first season of bee keeping/learning, but medical issues interfered at a critical time and sometimes life just gets in the way.

Not a good beekeeper

The past 9 weeks have been stressful with hubby’s issues, many, many appointments, and responsibilities. We had a stretch of very cold weather, then a return to spring. This afternoon, I finally set out to add 2:1 syrup and put the newly purchased, assembled, and painted sugar block trays in place. Everything needed was loaded into the back of one of the cars and driven down the field to the bee yard.

Once there, a notable lack of bees moving about caused some alarm, but determined to see what was what, the suit was donned, the smoker prepped if needed and the cover of the first, formerly strongest hive was removed. There was no life at all in the hive. Upon disassembling it tier by tier, this was what was on the bottom board.

Moving on to the second hive, it was a repeat of the first and when I reached the third hive, one that had been weak and was combined with another hive and given a new queen, it had life, not as strong as I would have liked, but alive. The hive was broken down far enough for me to place a sugar brick tray right on top of the queen excluder, all of the honey I could get from the first two hives added to the honey super for this hive and it placed back on, and three quarts of 2:1 syrup added to an empty medium box, and the hive closed back up. All of the parts from the other two hives were brought back to the house and I am going to have to get some large bags to load the frames into and put in the freezer for long enough to kill off anything that shouldn’t be in them, but it will take several loads to accomplish as our chest freezer is very large. Once they have all been frozen and bagged for storage, the freezer needs to be defrosted.

The sole remaining hive. Son 2 entrusted me to this project and I failed hugely. I hope the hives he has at home are doing better and more knowledge on my part can be gained to try again come spring perhaps.