The weather this weekend was incredible so I was able to survey the bees…the other girls in my life. I went into the winter with 10 good hives. I made sure each had around 50 pounds of honey in their top chamber (I run 2 deep chambers for the brood area…where the bees “live”) to get them through the winter. I did my varroa mite treatments (which this year, consisted of 1 treatment of apiguard as suggested by the WV Department of Agriculture). Anyhow, I checked them this weekend and found one completely dead and one very weak.
I have a series of funny stories regarding the hive that ultimately died. This hive was at a location in the city. It was started from a package (i.e. a box of bees that comes in the mail…the hardest way to start a hive I think) and was progressing along nicely. The landowner called me one day and said that the hive was destroyed. I went to investigate and found evidence that a bear had destroyed it (a big paw print in the wax gave him away). Anyhow, I collected the bees that remained (including the queen!) and took them to my house. The queen was damaged though so I combined them with a small swarm I collected last summer and hoped they would do well. A few weeks later, we got 75 mile-per-hour winds which blew a rain barrel full of water into the hive which knocked it over. Still, the bees mostly survived and the queen was still laying eggs (the life of the hive of course), though she wasn’t right. Once again, I added some bees and a new queen and tried again. This winter, another wild wind storm came up and blew the hive over and across my yard! I will not be putting more bees in that hive! So, I count that hive as one of the 10 I started with, but it is hard to be upset about their demise!
So, anyhow, I got into the hives and the remaining hives are very strong so I anticipate a good year if the weather plays along. I am going to post a bit more this week with some videos and pictures related to beekeeping. Holler if there is anything in particular you want to know about bees or beekeeping and I will try to show some pictures or video to answer.