I didn’t think I could get emotional over insects… but I did.
Our Beekeeping Diaries
As you know, it was a very exciting year last year. We started beekeeping on the farm. I have wanted to do this for many many many years, but really never had the space to do so. So last year we jumped in head first and purchased five hopeful hive -nucs, and set them in the perfect little orchard. At first, all do well, one in particular took off and grew at an astonishing rate. Before you new it I was on my second deep (bigger box toward the bottom), and looking at adding my mediums (smaller boxes toward the top of the langstroth hive). Summer went well, the local hay farms and apple, cherry, and pear trees were keeping those hives very busy. One hive did not really take off at all… but other than that we were very pleased with our first adventure with our bees. We did our first inspection for mites and hive robbers, and no big concerns… Fall came and we only harvested 10 frames from our strongest hive, with hopes of leaving them plenty for what we hoped would be a mild winter. We added a little (not much) winter protection and the closed up shop for the winter. We did a few inspections through the winter, but really tried to leave them to seal themselves up. The first seemed to okay… they were pushing those less fortunate bees out the front door, which is normal and good. The second inspection we just replaced the little bee pattie (food) that gives them a little extra food.
Fast Forward to April…
We notice less activity on the front of the hive, where they push out those bees that have died. We started to get nervous… Then in the last weeks of April we found Michigan with snow in the forecast once again. Oh no! The snow passes, and warmer weather finally shows it face here in Michigan. It was time to check the hives.
Key the Heartbreak and Emotions
We opened up all the hives and all the boxes, only to find no survivors. All of our poor little bees did not make it. Some would get a little uneasy seeing the piles of bees, but I can say I was so heartbroken to see this unbelievable, well functioning society end so tragically. I believe they froze to death… and it breaks my heart. As you know, everyone is having a hard time keeping over the seasons, hence the popular news coverage of the low bee population… and we found ourselves in that percentage of loss. However it is very hard not to blame yourself being in charge for the care of these little guys… I can say my first thought was to stop beekeeping and quit. I didn’t want to do this again… the summer time is fun, I could sit and watch them all day. Interact with them during inspection you build a little relationship with each hive. Some are happy you could hang out in your birthday suit without issue… while others in a constant state of pre-coffee and hangry. It took me a few days to realize the even the experienced are loosing their bees, and you can only do so much. I was reading a forum and one of the most experience keepers said… keep-keeping, so here we go again.
Here we go again! We have ordered two packages, a little different to the previous Nucs, but similar. We have cleaned out two hives and are ready to try this again. The amount of lessons learned from the previous year have already equipped us with what to expected and we know we are better keepers this year than we were last. We are going to relocate them further back on the property by our garden, and throughout the summer we will be looking to build a shelter for them over the winter to keep them a little more safe from all the elements the four seasons have to throw at them. We are still able to pull a harvest a lot of the honey our pervious hives have left behind, and we are so very thankful to our little friends for that gift. So please wish us luck, and look for our next bee diaries.