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The One I Especially Avoid

I was so happy that two out of three hives survived the winter. The survivors are happily foraging now and busy bringing in a lot of pollen. The smaller of the two survivors stood alone outside the fence, ten feet away from the main two hives during winter. I had already dismantled the dead hive creating an empty base of cement blocks which I had plan to put a new hive on when I can split the first hive later this spring.

What I found two days ago in front of the un-fenced, small hive was alarming.  A few droppings were in front of the hive containing what turned out to be partially digested bees.  The only animal that eats bees at night had left me a calling card. Great!  We have a skunk.  I was more concerned about raccoons because they are frequent nocturnal visitors in the yard poaching bird food. I chased four of them up a tree one evening.   Another night three of them were climbing on the pool fence looking for suet.  But I didn’t expect a skunk to be devouring my bees.

One of the calling cards the skunk left in front of the hive

One of the calling cards the skunk left in front of the hive

I have brushed off wasps,  and chased raccoons but I can’t do much about a skunk.  Chasing or confronting one is not an option, as it frequently leads to an onerous, odorous, uncompromising event.  So I moved the hive inside the fence and I’m hoping he’ll find easier pickings on someone else’s property.  Since we had an empty base already fenced in, we waited until dark and then lifted the entire hive moving it inside the fence.

I checked the bees this morning and found some of them gathering at the empty base of the third hive.  Not that many of them to worry about.  The majority seemed to know where their new home is.  I think these girls will eventually find their way back home just ten feet away.  I should have taken away the base completely so there wouldn’t be a queen scent left over to confuse them.

I will have to keep my eye out for skunks from now on.  If they manage to dig in under the fence, I will have to employ the next strategy… a mixed solution of Bhut Jolokia chili pepper and garlic.  If this doesn’t work, I will contract the owl and Red-tailed hawk to do the job.

Some bees still gathered at the empty base

Some bees still gathered at the empty base

Confused bees back from gathering pollen, try to find out where their hive has gone

Confused bees back from gathering pollen, try to find out where their hive has gone