The casualties of War
I did the post-mortem on our hive War today. I gave it a decent cleaning–cleared the multitudes of dead bees out, took out each frame thinking I’d find some reason for the death of the hive, and getting it squared away for a new package due in a few weeks.
I didn’t find much. No foulbrood or off-odors, and no large parasites (we treated for mites last fall). I did find a bit of mold here and there, but nothing systemic.
War had tons of honey in it, so our little ladies must have died early in the winter.
So War is ready for a new family. Famine hive, however, held some new surprises.
There were cleansing flights going on (temperatures were in the mid-50s), and I found the cluster around the queen in brood box #2. However, I find a mess of dead bees (lots of them), and a fair amount of mold. Deeps #1 and #3 were chock full of dead bodies, and there was a fair amount of yellow-ish and blue-green mold.
Jim over at Nature’s Nectar got a slightly-panicked call, but assured us it wasn’t all that bad. He recommended I clean out what I could without disturbing the cluster, remove the outer black cover and the winter wick board (I did), make sure there was sufficient honey in the combs (there was), and to also make sure there was a pollen patty available (there has been since last week, but it hasn’t been touched much–a good sign). He said the bees will deal with the mold more thoroughly than I could.
So I cleaned out Famine as best I could, emptied the bottom tray (full of poor little dead bodies), and got Famine squared away for the season. I hope its inhabitants make it for another month.
I know that our bees are just livestock that we use for our own purposes (homestead garden pollination and honey). I know that.
But I feel like we just lost some beloved pets.