Checking on the Hives—Good News and Bad News

This weekend I checked on the hives using the observation windows—still too cold and wet to open them up. Hive Orange appears to be trucking along, but it seems clear that both the Rebel Rebel and Green Hive colonies have died. We had a lot of adventures together, and I'll miss them.

On our next trip up in two weeks, I plan to do a careful assessment/investigation of both of the lost hives and try to figure out what did them in. From what I can see through the observation windows, both colonies have unused, capped honeycomb. Rebel Rebel showed visual evidence of dysentery and some of the combs in the rear of the hive body looked a bit moldy—a sign of ventilation problems, perhaps.

I'll report in a couple of weeks on everything I find in doing the "autopsies" on both hives. If any experienced beekeepers are reading this and wish to comment or share observations, I welcome them.

Here are a couple of shots of what's going on inside Hive Orange. The cluster of bees begins eight bars/combs back from the hive entrance, and extends over a total of 4 combs.The bees were moving around vigorously within the cluster area. There appear to be several capped honeycombs in the middle and rear of the hive.

I want to get in there soon and assess this colony's feeding needs. I can probably transfer some honeycombs from the dead hives to help Hive Orange through until bloom-time. But I don't want to transmit disease from hive to hive, so I need to do a little homework before deciding how best to proceed.

This year, a friend has built larger top bar hive bodies for us to try out; I hope this will allow the bees to save larger stores of honey for wintertime.

In entering Year 2 of my excursion into the manifold wonders of beekeeping, I am awed by how much there is to learn and am eager to "start again" (in the words of Leonard Cohen), letting the bees (and books, and cyber-mentors) teach me what I need to know.

That's what spring is all about, isn't it? Beginning anew and listening closely to Mother Nature's illuminating communiques.


Abelisto said...

Sorry about the hives dying out. I know this same thing may happen to me next year after finishing my first year as a beek. I hope I can handle it as well as you. But I am very happy that hive orange is thriving!

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg said...

Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with you new bees, and do stay in touch as the process unfolds. Hold on to your hat--it's going to be a wild ride! :)