Starting Over Again After Six Years
We still can’t figure out what happened to our honeybees. They were gone, without a trace last winter. There was plenty of honey still stored in each hive but just a few dead bees in there, most of them were young bees. There was no foul smell in any of the hives and the frames looked clean. After six years of tending them, they were gone in one season. We also haven’t seen very many wild bees lately either. So far just some Carpenter bees and Mason bees. Not even a Bumblebee.
We think we might have been hit either by the CCD (Colony-collapse Disorder) or Zombees (Apocephalus borealis) but it could be anything at this point. As discouraged as we are we won’t give up. We received three new packages of bees to start over with. The first two came in mid-April but we had to keep them in their boxes for a few more days after we received them. The weather wasn’t on our side to hive them, either raining, too cold or to windy. We sprayed sugar syrup on the screens a few times a day to keep them well fed while they remained confined. We were finally able to hive them on April 23, freedom at last.
We did the first inspection of these two new hives ten days later, May 2nd. Each hive had freed their queens and built comb. Both top tray feeders were empty. There was some pollen as well. We couldn’t see the queens but didn’t want to stress them further by searching for her. Over all there are good signs that they have settled in to their new homes. We removed the top tray feeders and changed to bottle feeders instead because they had built comb between the feeder gap and inside one of the feeders.
It’s been raining almost everyday with the temperature hovering a little above 50°F on the days that we are home. As a result, since the 1st inspection, we haven’t have a chance to check on their feeders again. I think we will have to continue feeding them until the weather condition is improved.
The third package came in on May 5th and I was able to hive them that evening. This particular package is much calmer than the first two, maybe because they weren’t in confinement for a long time like the first two packages.
Hopefully these three new hives will survive the season. My fear is not just the CCD now but the commercial elimination of mosquitos and ticks that is encroaching into the neighborhood. Any sensible person knows that spraying insecticide will not just kill mosquitos and ticks but all insects that come into contact. But advertisement and convenience seem to trump commonsense. So we set the new hives further inside our property and will keep our fingers crossed.