The hive is dead
After a few weeks of suspiciously low levels of bee activity around the hive, I finally faced up to opening it up and having a look. There were only a handful of bees left and it was clear that the end had arrived. I waited a few more weeks before dealing with it – because I was so sad about it and also since I was very reluctant to dismantle it while there were still bees alive. I felt sorry for those bees, still madly working away even though they had no hope of survival. Yet I could not hasten their end by making them homeless.
Finally, finally I got around to it. I took out all the frames and cut off the wax to dispose of it. I don’t know what caused the failure but I have strong suspicions about poisoning. I have been thinking dark thoughts about my neighbour(s) wondering who/when/why/how-dare-they. Andrew thinks I am quite mad and unreasonable to accuse them of poisoning my hive. But one neighbour has shown signs of strange behaviour with the dog (this is the guy who was very positive about the news that I was getting bees). On the other boundary is the neighbour who was terrified about me getting bees. The nasty person in me suspects that he would feel quite entitled to pop into our yard and spray the bees with some insecticide. That is all it would take – one little spray. Then again, my evil genie says to me, there are the lawn mowing guys…perhaps the bees irritated them while mowing and they decided to spray them(?).
See what a bad, bad place I have been in mentally with my bee hive failure? Don’t worry, I have blamed myself and my lack of skill/knowledge as well through all this. The rational part of me accepts that it could have been some strange disease or just bad luck. But this second failure in the year has been hard to take.
I am over it now though. Truly I am. Onwards and upwards. The stripping of the frames was a huge and messy effort. It was also quite cathartic – therapy through action for me! I felt like I had to do it even though I was sorely tempted to just chuck them out and start again. I could not bear to throw out all the honey that was there, those little bees worked so hard to make it. So I fed big chunks of honeycomb to the dog and chickens. Not sure if the chickens ate it, but the dog certainly had a feast.
On Saturday I read my new bee book from cover-to-cover to arm myself with knowledge. Yesterday the kids and I scraped out and re-painted the hive box. Andrew built a little stand for me so that the hive can sit off the ground and hopefully keep the ants and beetles at bay. The whole family is going all out to welcome the bees back! I have found a new place to put the hive, closer to my back door and out of arms reach of one of the neighbours (just in case!). It will be a warmer spot as well, the original spot turned out to be quite cold and damp during the winter.
The new queen bee arrived last week and my friend Russell who is patiently helping me yet again, has put her into a nucleus hive which he is starting with some of his bees. In a couple of weeks time I will bring that hive home and keep my fingers and toes crossed that third time is indeed lucky.
Have a look at this section of the wax. Can you imagine how many trips that one little bee would have made to pack so much pollen into one cell. There was heaps of pollen and nectar – no babies to eat it but still the bees kept bringing it home.