Winter Bee Deaths

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually; I lost all of my hives.

I had suspected that the weaker one was doomed all along, but I was so sure that the big hive was going to do just fine. They had a bit of a varroa nightmare going into the fall, but I medicated for the first time in many years and was otherwise feeling confident. I went out the other day to see what was going on, and not a peep. I cracked the top of both hives, and there in the front on both hives was the remains of a tiny, frozen cluster.

My early guess is that they honey chamber was a bit too spread out, and they got caught between honey stores as they tried moving to a new spot. Very frustrating and discouraging!

A few weeks back my dad called me to tell me that he was dropping his hives. He’s getting to an age where the weight of the boxes plus the heat of the summer was causing difficulty for him, and it was the right choice. Talking with him made me wonder about my own hives. I enjoy keeping bees, but I’m also less willing to put forth the serious effort that they sometimes require. So do I stop, take a break, or start over?

Part of me feels like a short break of a year or two would be the right choice, but I also recognize that a short break might became a long break. Probably will become a long break if I’m being honest.

So do I start over this year? Sigh… I don’t know. Bees are pricey to start over, and I don’t care for that part of it all. My success rate with a package is only about 50% as well, and I’m not too excited to pour money down the drain. I’m debating baiting the hives and trying to attract a swarm. I’m also debating replacing all my equipment.

Then again, I could sell it all off and just be done for awhile.

So my fellow beeks, what have you done when you started debating the “do I keep going” question?

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2 Responses to Winter Bee Deaths

  1. Emily Scott says:

    Sorry to hear this sad news, we all dread finding this in our hives. I think baiting the hives to try and attract a local swarm is a good plan, especially as you have used comb you can leave in there. Probably best to burn up your old brood combs in case they contain disease and also attract wax moths, but when it gets to spring perhaps leave one or two drawn out old honey combs at the front and fill the rest of the hive with foundation, plus a couple of drops of lemongrass oil.

    Are there other beekeepers in your area/a local association? Wondering if other beekeepers might want to sell bees for cheaper prices than a package. Better to buy local bees anyway, then they’re acclimatised to your area.

  2. Major bummer! I know you’ll make the right decision for you. 🙂

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