Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Lost Another One
So far I have lost three hives now and each of them were a swarm from last year. The first two not only had problems building up comb and brood during the Summer but also suffered some robbing from stronger colonies. This last hive to succumb to the cold and lack of food was actually the first swarm I captured last year in late March or early April. It was a ground swarm of barely a cup of bees when I found it. The queen looked healthy but for some reason this swarm didn't go very far and just settled down in a little ball about 2 foot in front of the hive it came out of. I carefully gathered up the queen and then transported as many stragglers as I could into a nuc and from there it began building up nicely for the first couple of months until the drought hit us that is.
As with the other hives I began feeding this hive in July yet just like the others no amount of syrup feed would make them begin laying brood. As the drought continued they simply just did not have enough bees to build up the stores they needed, even when it was handed to them. This hive actually had dry sugar in a top feeder that they had been feeding on for the last month but apparently they were just unable to process it fast enough to keep themselves warm and fed.
I thought about combining the small hives into a large one for Winter but I also kept hoping for a Fall flow and by the time I realized we were not going to get one it had gotten too cold for combining the hives.
Since I still cannot get my image software to work I couldn't take any pictures but inside the hive you could see where they had made a ball in an effort to keep warm and simply ran out of food they had immediately available. My guess is this hive finally succumbed Sunday night as they were flying during the day on Friday. Although Sunday was not overly cold the Sun never came out and the wind kept the bees in their Winter ball which meant they were unable to forage for food.
So I am down to six hives now and praying the rest make it until things begin blooming again. I have placed emergency feed in the top of each hive and have syrup feeders at each apiary, let me tell you the girls are really hitting those feeders as well. The question is will it be enough? Another real cold snap that keeps them balled up for a few days may spell doom for all the remaining hives. All I can do at this point is keep the feed available and hope for the best.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!