Saturday, March 9, 2013

Death of the Hive

Sad to report that the bees are all dead.  Yep.  Starved and frozen.  But as you will see from the photos below, there was a lot of honey to eat.  They just got to be such a small cluster that they didn't cover enough ground on the frames.  And they didn't move.  And they say the bees are smart and think as a group.  One of them close to the food should have piped up, "shift left!!!!"  Such a contrast from the bustling big cluster that I saw back in mid-January when we opened the hive.   I suppose that the colony needed to be even bigger in the fall.  Not my fault.  Remember they swarmed twice in August.  I caught one swarm, but they left again anyway.  
So, back to the beginning.  I will order a "package" of bees this time.  It will allow me to start up earlier than last year, when I didn't get bees til after mid-June because I had ordered a local nuc.   Hopefully, I can have some bees around when my fruit trees start to bloom.  So here is the hive necropsy below.  If you don't like dead bees, don't look.

Frozen bees on right.  See the one bee deep in the cell who is only one cell from all that honey?

Looking down into frames.  The cluster was only surrounding that third frame, covering maybe 6".

I looked diligently to see Queenie, but didn't ID her.  Bees are so far down in those cells.

Capped honey left in the hive one frame over from cluster.  Why don't they move?

More honey

More honey.  I did not harvest a drop of honey in the fall, leaving it all for the bees.

This is too much.  It is going in the house for me to eat, finally.

I shifted frames and put all the best honey toward the center  of the upper hive box in the late fall.  At that time
all the bees were down in the bottom hive body with brood and looking quite good.  I had high hopes.  This is
a great deal of honey to not have used up.

I'm sure that one little bee died screaming her lungs out that if they would all just move a bit--just one more cell--
that they would find all this honey and they could live.  Somebody shove the queen down this way!!!

More honey.

Something got in and chewed away at the wax.   A mouse?  The mouse guard was not always on the door.
Sometimes I took it off because it makes it hard for the bees to clean out the dead bees.  But there was
no other sign of a mouse inside.

All the bees who had died and fallen to the floor. Yuk.

Frames all out  Box given a cursory scrape.  Tons of bees on the ground.  Frames with no honey back into the boxes.
Honey frames taken up to be put in the freezer or harvested for me, finally.  They will be a good start for the spring package.  Best discovery of today--GIANT ziplock bags--find them at Walmart.

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