What's up with the bees?  Everyone's been asking.  Well, let's just get this out ... Today I checked on them and they appear to have died out.  That's pretty hard to say, but it does happen.  They were doing really well this year and just a few weeks ago, I was feeding them and they were numerous.  But today, peeking in the window, the comb looks dark and dead and no bees are active.  I haven't opened it up yet, I'm still steeling myself up for that job.
So, what now?  I had been prepared for this moment for a long time.  I thought I knew the answer, but now ...  I've had a change of heart.  This last summer I've noticed I am reacting more and more badly to the stings.  They burn initially and I show no problems after a few hours, but later, for up to a week, I get a very itchy rash.  Last time, a few weeks ago, it ran all down my neck.  I tried denying it to myself, telling myself it was something else or just a one time thing, but I knew it really wasn't.  Thus, I think I will quit while I'm ahead and let the bee idea go.  That's a hard decision.  I may entertain bees again in another way, say lending space to another beek and moving the hives out of range a bit.
This never was a necessity.  I wasn't looking for lots of honey or pollination.  It was just nice to have around.   I've learned a lot, seen that the bumblebees are more active than I imagined, and witnessed an amazing honey bee swarm.  Those things will never go away for me.
As for here, well I have been negligent in writing of late, but I plan on keeping with the gardening, cooking and occasional personal posts.  So if you are reading here, please stop by once in a while and I may have something posted :-) . So, for now, a farewell to the bees.  It's been fun.
 


Linda Einfalt
11/25/2012 05:02

I have enjoyed reading about your bees. Think I stumbled on you when looking for ways to winterized my top bar hives. This winter i am trying the insulation added to the exterior as you did.This is my 3rd
year of beekeeping so I am not an expert by any means. Sorry tohear you are giving itup. there are- few things I want to suggest a first. The stings. I have 3.top bar hives and have been rarely stung. One of those all in one suits with the attached hat and veil and zip the pant legs over boots. Also when I go into the hives, I rarely if at all disrupt the brood nest which will make them defensive and protective. You just go in from each end to check them and harvest honey from a few bars. The brood nest contains heat, smell and energy which should not be disturbed. Also the bees cannot process sugar water as well as honey so it is best to feed it when you feel the need to feed. I have read so much online about beekeeping and
You need to sift through the misinformation,too.We are really bee guardians not keepers and we try to do no harm. I made my share of mistakes for sure but I am learning and this summer I harvested lovely clear lavender scented honey from my girls which I shared with friends and family. As I recall, you have 2 hives which IMHO
Is better than just one. So get yourself a total suit and order a couple of packages of bees and try again. The bees need us.

Pdiff
11/26/2012 08:15

Linda,
Thank you for you kind comments. I use a full veil jacket and actually, have never been stung while working the bees. Surprisingly, all my stings this year (and I did have more this year) occurred away from the hive. So the problem really wasn't my kit, but rather their defensiveness. I had noticed that they were far more defensive through out the year, probably a change in genetics over the seasons. They would just start getting in my face, sometimes no where near the hive, and then - POP - I've been stung :) As I said, the stings are not immediately a problem. They burn, but that goes away. The rash and itching for a week + after, though, is not good.
BTW, I agree that it is good to not be poking around in the brood area often. I had started doing that this year, basically, letting them alone, and they did really well this year, number-wise, which is why I was surprised to see them crash so quickly. For the record, this was definitely not CCD, as there were dead bees out front. I suspect a disease, possibly fungal.
The efforts were not for a total loss. I plan on shifting to enhancing natural pollinators. My observations have shown me that there are many many bumblebees (several species) along with sweatbee, leaf cutters, and halicitadae that do well in my area. The HBees always struggled to find food dependent on the crops around. Typically it is sparse and they seemed to stay off the "native" flowers, while the other species used everything available. I've also noted that the local commercial Beeks in this area move their hives regularly to keep up with the food. As I said, I may go back to leasing space for some hives (for some honey :) ), but for now, I'm taking a break.
It sounds like you are doing well. Good luck to you and please come by again. I'm still interested in what others are doing out there :) .


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