Bees In Our Bonnets

The (mis)adventures of raising honey bees in Minnesota

Archive for the ‘Hive deaths and die-offs’ Category

Not an auspicious start to the year

leave a comment »

I went down to my local bee supply guy and picked up pollen patties, and bought sugar to make feeder pails.

Our winter wasn’t harsh, but it’s still going on! We had 4 inches of snow on April 18th. I figured we’d have to feed our bees for at least two weeks and possibly as much as four before we get nectar flow.

The Horsemen went up the hill for me to look into the hives while I was out running errands, and it turns out we’ve lost all four hives.

All dead as doornails.

At least one of them died early on, because Horseman #4 couldn’t lift Pestilence’s top deep box by himself.

sigh Guess I’m going to have to spend $300 on four new bee packages — if I can find four of them this late in the season.

It was a crap winter, and now it looks like spring isn’t going to be much better.


Written by beesinourbonnet

20 April 2013 at 17:23

Avis melliferis arising in St. Paul

leave a comment »

We got our Italians ladies installed into three of the four hives in our Four Horsemen Apiary today. We have two new hives, and poor War has to be repopulated.

First things first–getting War repopulated. I’d cleaned out the hive decently well:

There was a lot of honey left in War, and some of it spilled onto the bottom board.

I took off the top deep and redistributed its frames to the other three hives, since those frames are just bursting with honey and pollen. (The ladies in War must have died early in the winter, and I’m still not sure why.)

The new queen went in without a hitch…

All shiny and new!

The pollen patty went in, and the syrup bucket went in atop the inner cover, and War’s ready to become the great producer it was last year. (We got 16 pints of honey for it, and that’s a good yield for a first-year hive.)

Famine was in decent shape; we’ve been seeing cleansing flights for several weeks, and I found a modest amount of honey and pollen in it a month ago. I checked the pollen patty that’s been in there for awhile and it was in decent shape. So a syrup bucket went on, and Famine’s locked and loaded.

On to the new hives–Death and Pestilence–in the next post!

Written by beesinourbonnet

2 May 2011 at 18:46

The casualties of War

with one comment

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.

Deep #2 from War

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.


Written by beesinourbonnet

3 April 2011 at 17:29

Posted in Hive deaths and die-offs

Tagged with , ,