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The hive is dead

October 10, 2011

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.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 8:15 PM

    I hope it all goes better this time – fingers crossed the new location does the trick! You certainly made every effort, so please don’t be too hard on yourself!!

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:29 AM

      Being a bee keeper is just like being a parent I think – hard not to take it personally when things go wrong!

  2. October 11, 2011 5:17 AM

    Oh dear what a sad tale. I really hope it wasn’t the neighbours and simply bad luck. We have hardly any bees around right now, windy and damp and no purple flowers to tempt thiem into the garden. I wish the new hive well, sending buzzy thoughts πŸ™‚ Joanna

  3. October 11, 2011 6:03 AM

    Well that is a very sad story. I hope you don’t have a very evil neighbour living next door but it does seem suspicious.

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:28 AM

      My thoughts exactly!

  4. October 11, 2011 10:59 AM

    Oh that’s just so sad. I’m so sorry. I adore bees, honey even more! πŸ™‚ Hope you are okay. Xxx

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:26 AM

      Thanks Anna. Yes, feeling better about it now, but was rather sad for a few weeks there.

  5. October 11, 2011 3:45 PM

    The Queen is dead, long live the Queen! I hope this time all goes well, maybe you train your bees to attack those nasty neighbours if they hop the fence?

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:26 AM

      Ha ha, yes, I could post warning signs on my fences – “The dog might be friendly but beware of the bees”?!

  6. October 12, 2011 9:53 AM

    That is very sad indeed. I really hope this time around the hive just thrives for you all…. and reallllly hope there was no neighbour involvement 😦

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:25 AM

      Me too. I don’t like thinking nasty thoughts about my neighbours, particularly when they are likely to be completely unjustified. I am inviting all the neighbours over for a barbeque though, just to make up for the nasty thoughts i have been thinking! Might have to make sure I get them to come over before the bee hive comes home….or maybe after it comes and I can show them how lovely and safe my bees are…? hmm…what to do? If they are nasty then showing them the new location would be like painting a target on the hive, and if they are not nasty then it could be good for reassuring them. Sigh.

  7. October 12, 2011 8:33 PM

    oh dear how sad! good luck with your new Queen!

    • spiceandmore permalink*
      October 14, 2011 8:22 AM

      Ta. Fingers crossed!

  8. January 25, 2013 2:42 AM

    A belated comment, I know, but I resonate with you! We’re in the thick of winter and have had over a week of sub-zero temps. I just went to do a hive check (by listening with an ear up to the hive) and fear that my favorite hive might not have made it through the cold snap. This was days ago, and I’m still glum. It’s amazing how attached we can get to a bee! I hope you’re hive ar well!

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