Our winter was the longest and harshest I’ve ever seen, and sitting inside the house thinking about my bees was difficult. I knew the odds were against them and there was NOTHING I could do about it. My worries were confirmed when I was finally able to check on them late in March. Both hives had died. I am still a rookie and don’t know exactly why they died, but I do have strong suspicions.
Like I mentioned already, it was a hard winter. I’m pretty sure that that sealed the deal for my poor bees. One of my hives has some dark staining inside, which I suspect is evidence of Nozema, a digestive disease that bees can get. That same hive didn’t eat much of the food I provided them before they perished. The other hive, which was stronger to begin with, ate most of the food I provided them with but they still had honey stores they hadn’t touched. There was moisture in both hives, so it’s possible that the bees got too wet despite insulating and tilting the hives forward. There were many bees in both hives that crawled back into the comb cells, and I’m not positive what that means. Someone told me that’s a sign of starvation, but my bees had plenty of food.
So today my oldest son and I opened up the hives and cleaned them out. There was a decent amount of mold due to the moisture that was still inside the hives and the warming outdoor temperatures. I was concerned about being able to use the hives and frames after they’ve been moldy, so we scraped a lot of the moldy comb. I later found out that we didn’t need to do that because the new bees will clean them up. However, with the large quantity of bees inside the comb cells, I wanted to at least get those cleaned out so the frames could dry properly. We loaded the hives and frames and brought them to the garage to be laid out to dry so they can be used again.
It’s an awful thing to lose bees, but the best thing we can do is move on. Everybody loses bees at some point, and we are no different. I am very happy to report that we have new bees on order and due to arrive in May! I am eager to hear the buzz of bees again in my back yard.
If you are an experienced beekeeper and can offer some insight, please feel free to comment below. If you are new to beekeeping, I hope my experience will be a learning experience for you as well. I’d love to read your comments, too! Have a great spring and enjoy the sunshine!