The bees did not make it through the winter. I am not really surprised and neither are my bee mentors who have lost a few hive themselves this year.
A bee can only preform cleansing flights when the outside temp is above 50 or so and this winter full of -20 degree days did no one any favors. Least of all my bees.
We had a small warm up in January and they all bubbled out of the hive pooping as they went. This was the beginning of the end. Less then 2 week later our little hive was silent.
We had gotten a huge harvest from the summer, something that is very unusual for a first year hive. We also had good numbers going into winter so it is hard to tell exactly what happened.
When I did the hive autopsy there was still over 15 lbs of capped honey left near the cluster so I know they did not starve. I am also pretty sure that it was not one of the really bad bee maladies that got them, like American or Europian foul brood.
We did get new hive furniture to start the new hives and I am bleaching the crap (no pun) out of the old boxes and frames. New wax foundation for everyone!
I suspect mites weakened the colony and a lack of days to fly gave them desentary, it’s all down hill from there.
It was so sad and hard to not to feel like I failed the little buzzers, even though I did treat for mites in the fall.
The shear amount of dead bees was impressive, impressively depressing.
Since I’m no quitter we ordered 2 packages of bees (on their way right now from down south.)
The only good thing about our hive collapsing mid-winter and not in the spring is that there were still bees available.
Many of my classmates who are discovering hive collapses now are probably not going to be able to get more bees this year.
I guess that is our silver lining, that and we still have honey from our fall harvest.
This is our first time using a package of bees instead of a nuc. A package will have only adult bees and a mated queen. The nuc contains a lying queen with 5 frames of larva.
It will be interesting to compare and contrast the two options.
Wish us luck!
We are going to need it!