The Foretold Death of the First Hive


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Appearances are deceiving:  These bees are dead.

As I wrote in late September, I expected our first colony of bees to not make it through the winter. Although the winter was unexpectedly mild, our bees still appear to have starved even with some honey in the hive. Too few bees had survived to keep the colony warm, and so the little cluster of bees stayed together and died side by side with their little heads buried deep into the comb, perhaps in an effort to find the last scrap of food or to stay warm. I have read both theories for why bees die like this.


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After brushing away the cluster of dead bees, I found these bees buried deep into the comb amid brood and what certainly appears to be a supersedure queen cell.

Expecting their death did not make their death easier. In fact, with the glimmer of hope we had a few weeks ago, it was hard to walk up to the hive and to hear nothing. No happy (or even angry!) buzz of bees humming about their lives within the hive. We spent the afternoon cleaning out the dead bees from the hive when we had hoped to report happy news.

Of course, I’m not deterred from beekeeping by the loss of our bees. I look forward to our next three-pound package of bees, which, due to the diligence of last year’s bees, will have a nice foundation upon which to build a new home.

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Fortunata offers a benediction for the new hive. Lee cleans out the old hive. We ended up wearing our bee veils because some early spring bees from other hives were very, very interested in the drawn combs of honey we pulled from the hive.




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