Bee Hive Fail

I’ve always promised to share with y’all the good, the bad AND the ugly because the last thing I want to do is glamorize the farm and homesteading lifestyle.  With that being said I am about to share with y’all our beekeeping and bee hive fail.

It’s a sad tale and the photos are downright ugly.  Disgusting, actually, if you ask me but maybe our fail will help another new beekeeper some day.

Now that you have been fairly warned about the nature of this post feel free to hit that X and read no further if you’d rather not read about our blunder (but, by now, I’m sure your interest is piqued!).

OK, for those of you still with me here goes…

Last Spring we drove a couple hours one way and picked up our 3 lb. package of bees and a queen.

We installed them into their new home and were fairly hands-off beekeepers only checking on them occasionally.  Our feeling was to allow the bees to do their thing naturally without us interfering too often.  They did well; even practically filling up several frames with honey.  We did end up with hive beetles but in talking with other beekeepers in the area we found out we were not alone as they had them too.  For the most part, though, all was well and the hive was functioning as it should.  That is, until winter came.

We had created a wind block for the hive but each time we checked the hive during the winter months we found a lot of dead bees which left us a little unsettled.  Since there was plenty of honey in the supers to eat we decided to insulate the hive a little better thinking that maybe it was just too cold and they were freezing.  When we opened up the hive again they were dead. Every.last.one.  Upon further investigation regarding hives and bees during the winter I’m thinking that we insulated them a little too well.    And to think, we only had two more months of cold weather.  Maybe, just maybe, they would have survived had we simply left them alone.  sniff.

We will never know for sure what it was that killed them all but I was so upset to think that it might have been our fault and that we had failed them.

So now we have an empty hive.

A 3 lb. package of bees is not cheap so we decided not to replace them this year.  Instead, CountryBoy set about trying to attract a colony of bees to the hive by using Lemon oil and a bit of the honey we harvested last Fall.

We had some visiting bees eating the honey but none of them decided to stay.

Of course, with the sweet smelling honey we also drew ants.

When the honey was gone and the Lemon oil had evaporated we simply left the hive untouched.

The other day CountryBoy decided it was time to do something with it and this is what we found when we opened it up…

bee hive fail 6

Gross.  Just gross.

As we were pulling out the frames a silk-like substance was spanning the two frames.

bee hive fail 7

Yuck.

I knocked the ants off the frames then CountryBoy began scraping the yuck and the honeycomb off…

bee hive fail 1

We did salvage the nice parts of the honeycomb which will help the future bees get a head start.  Here’s one of the better looking frames where we were able to keep quite a bit of the honeycomb…

bee hive fail 2

Once all the frames were removed he had to scrape the interior of the box as well…

Worms.  Worm pods or whatever they are.  Bleh.

The hive and frames are all clean now and are sitting outside being bleached by the sun.

Eventually, they’ll be stored with the rest of the beekeeping paraphernalia until we get more bees.

The whole ordeal of losing the bees and then having to deal with the above mess is one of the harder parts of homesteading.  Much harder than physical work for sure.  Physical work is good for the mind, body and soul but this disaster?  It’s simply a reality of homesteading; the ugly part of it and, quite frankly, one I would rather do without as would any homesteader yet we keep plugging away.

My hats off to you if you made it through this ugly blog post!

Since you survived I’ll end it with a prettier photo I shared on Facebook today…

wildflower arrangement

I picked these on my way back from the mailbox the other day.  It’s always nice to have fresh flowers indoors.

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Oh my stars! I am so sorry for your bee adventure not going well. You tried and that counts! I’m sure it will go better next time. I admire you all trying so many ways to work with land and nature!

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  2. Bee keeping has been our most frustrating part of homesteading. Especially getting the hives through the winter. We have tries insulating the hive and not insulating but always have some losses. This pat winter was the worst when we lost 4 out of 5 hives. In this spring we started two new hives but only one hive out of three is thriving this year. We had hoped to catch some swarms to start new hives but they have yet to swarm. We are not the only ones in our area who are struggling with this. Some of the larger apiaries lost all of their bees this year. I suspect the cost of local honey is going up.
    We have also experienced wax moths getting into weak hives in the past – you are right they make a horrible mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh my! Yes, I am hearing more and more from beekeepers that it’s been a tough year. It eases the sting somewhat but makes me sad that so many bees have been lost. We’ll keep trying though as we continue to do more research and funds allow. I hope you have a swarm soon 🙂

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  3. So sorry all your bees died. It’s emotionally hard to accept after all you did for them. But if the big co’s failed too it may not have been your fault. You’ll just have to read more about taking on bees before you try again next year. Reminds me of when we set up our first aquarium and it failed because we had it too close to the heating duct that winter. Water got too warm and the fish died. But don’t beat yourself up too bad. As you learn more, you will become more successful next time.

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