Now that is a phrase I never thought I’d write….
I was going to do it tomorrow, but I got home from work with a chill breeze on the air, a hint of frosty snow, and an hour of daylight. That all adds up to finally doing what needed to be done weeks ago–the actual demise of hive 2.
At this point, this is purely scientific. It was not fun. I did not enjoy it. And I hope that is both a first and a last.
When I opened the hive, I did everything I could to find even a single reason to spare the hive, but the literally thousands of big, drone eyes staring at me…. There is nothing for it.
I started by pulling the top brood box off, which exposed the cluster. The bottom box was largely empty, so I set that aside for everyone inside to freeze overnight. Then I spent the next hour pulling each frame out of the top box and dumping the bees onto the ground. They were more than a little angry about that, but they fought only a minute or two each before they’d drop to the ground and, well… die.
When I left, there were clusters of bees scattered all over the ground trying their best to stay warm. Small clusters. There are maybe 500 – 1000 still in the hives, and they’ll die tonight in the freeze.
While the thought of the thousands of bees dying tonight truly depresses me, know what depresses me the most? The fact that there is plenty of honey on the hive. At least nine completely full frames. Front and back. They had 10,000+ bees in there still. They had EVERYTHING. Everything they needed to make it.
I wish I knew what finally happened. I do know that there was no queen at least. There were only maybe a hundred cells of capped brood, all of it bulging with drones. There were no eggs. No larva. Whoever was laying hasn’t layed an egg in at least a week or so. There was no organization in the hive. No clearly defined cluster (although there was a cluster). No brood pattern for the few brood. When the bees were dumped, they made no effort to find a queen, to track her pheremone.
But oh the drones! Thousands of them! In December!
I know I’ll have a better attitude come spring when I can return the saved honey and wax to new hives, but right now I’m simply depressed. I can’t stop thinking about them out there freezing to death, especially the small clusters that would form on my back and neck. The ones that didn’t seem to get that I was killing them.