Dead Hive

They Starved to Death

The honeybees were busy today, flying in and out with a lot of pollen.  I’m glad we live in a watershed area with so many trees blossoming at this time of year.  There are not many leaves to be seen but a lot of maples here are budding.  A large silver maple in the front yard just unfurled its petals as well.  Observing them bringing in pollen has reduced my concern for them not having enough protein to raise their young.  I try to keep honeybees the way nature intended.  I don’t use any chemical treatment of any kind.  The research I did early on made it clear that it’s possible to keep bees naturally and organically.

It was warm and sunny today so I opened the dead hive to look for the cause of death.  The whole hive was so light.  I could easily lift all three supers by myself and look at the screen bottom board.  There were very many dead bees at the bottom.  I decided to move the whole hive away from the other’s just in case there were any transmittable diseases.  Opening the supers up on the driveway one by one to inspect, there was no foul smell and no moth cocoons but all combs were empty.  Combs in the top super had dead bees in a lot of the cells.  Even the inner foam insulation showed signs of being chewed.  They were trying to find any food source to prolong their lives during the six long brutal months this winter but in the end they starved to death.

After seeing what caused one hive to die I felt an urgent need to feed the surviving ones.  I know they can find their own food most of the day now but a little help won’t hurt.  It was warm enough (62º F) for me to open the top and feed them with sugar syrup.  A gallon for each hive should be enough to give them a boost.  I hope I can open and inspect these hives soon so I can have some bearing of why they survived and the other one didn’t.

As much as I mourn the dead one, I’m glad that two out of three hives survived this last winter.  They are strong now and will produce a very strong generation of honeybees.  As Nietzsche put it…”That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

Dead bees on the bottom board
Dead bees on the bottom board
Comb with bees in the cells
Comb with bees in the cells
Up close on the other comb
Up close on the other comb


6 thoughts on “Dead Hive

  1. Those were some head down hungry bees alright.
    Mine made it through winter but are struggling now. We had some early good weather so they started brooding up and then we’ve had three weeks of rubbish weather so they can’t forage. More mouths and less food.

    1. I feel so guilty. I thought I’ve fed them enough last fall but I didn’t expect the brutal long winter. I’m trying to figure out why the smallest hive has survived.

    1. Yep. Very thankful for warmth finally. As far as I know they are busy foraging. The surviving two hives are certainly flying around like crazy and bringing back a lot of pollen I notice.

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