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…
Gross. Just gross.
As we were pulling out the frames a silk-like substance was spanning the two frames.
I knocked the ants off the frames then CountryBoy began scraping the yuck and the honeycomb off…
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…
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…
I picked these on my way back from the mailbox the other day. It’s always nice to have fresh flowers indoors.