Empty Hives

It was a weekly feeding of the bees during winter.  The first year is always the hardest while they are building their honey combs from scratch. The fondant we fed seemed to be working and the hives seemed fine……until today.

We knew there was an issue when there was still food left from our last visit. We didn’t want to fully open the hives to investigate because of the cold temperature outside. There were dead bees on the outside ledge but not a lot. We waited until a warm day to pull open the hives.

Unfortunately our worst fears were founded. The bees were gone and the hives were being raided by another swarm of honey bees who took all the food and honey to where ever they came from.

Unlike previous years where we lost a single hive due to cold or swarming, we lost ALL 3 hives all at once, in a single week.

We were baffled! What had happened?!  All 3 at once is a very suspicious situation. Did a neighbor spray a pesticide or herbicide? Did it really get cold enough over the winter to kill off all the honey bees? The bees purchased locally are usually born and bred in warmer states. Our dry, windy and variable climate is not very hospitable. Temperatures occasionally swing up to 60 degrees in a single day! From freezing to 80 degrees within 24 hours.  40 mile an hour winds, hail and snow storms in May are fairly common.

So what’s next? Since all the bees purchased in our state aren’t truly local, we set up swarm traps with scents that lure honey bees in hopes that local bees who have hardened up to our climate will move in.  

A lot of money has been invested in our bees and hives over the last 4 years and we have only been able to draw honey twice.  We will try to catch a swarm and wait until next spring to determine if we will potentially buy any again.

Please consider this when you are getting ready to use any chemicals.  Honey bees are dying at an alarming rate in our state and they are needed to pollinate and grow our vegetables! What may seem like a light weight harmless spray to kill weeds, spiders or other insects may eradicate colonies of bees within a day! Please help us save our bees.