I’ve trekked out to visit my beehive a few times this past winter. I noticed early on that there were a lot of dead bees around the base of my hive and clogging the entrance. This didn’t look like good news to me. Finally, with some warm days last week, I opened up my hive and my suspicions were, very unfortunately, confirmed. My whole hive failed to make it through the winter. From the looks of it…I dont think they even made it very far into winter.
This is the bottom board of my hive, covered in dead bees!
I found my dead bees in their winter cluster (they huddle to stay warm!)
Most of my bees were found with their bee butts sticking out of the comb.
According to some bee mentoring friends, it appears as though my hive died from starvation. The peculiar thing about this explanation is that the hive was FILLED with honey for the bees to eat over winter! This colony die off could have been a result of an early cold snap that lasted for too many days and left the bees unable to break cluster and travel to nearby honey stores. Another possibility, which I’m leaning towards, is that my bees did in fact swarm last fall. When a hive swarms, many of the bees will leave the hive to establish a new colony elsewhere. Due to the fact that my worker bees were building queen cells this past fall leads me to now believe that I didn’t prevent a swarm event. The unfortunate part of swarming is that my present colony is then left with a smaller population of bees–>therefore a smaller cluster for overwintering and a greater chance of not surviving.
I was, however, left with a good amount of honey that I was able to late harvest! What a sticky task that was!
The boys gladly interrupted their baseball practicing to check out the honeycombs!
We also had to do some quality control taste-testing while out in the field!
Here is an entire frame of honey. The left side of the frame shows how the bees capped the honey with wax. On the right side, I cut the cappings off to show the beautiful honey stored underneath!
I do not have a honey extractor, which would make processing easier. Instead I crushed up the honeycomb and placed them in a sieve to drain. This method leaves some tiny bits of wax that pass through, along with propolis and any natural pollens that the bees may have collected! (These “extras” are touted to be beneficial for seasonal allergies!)
Here are the frames with the honeycomb cut off.
Our final count was around 14 lbs of our own local woodsy honey!
…somewhat of a sweet ending at least!
I am planning to try and establish another hive…in early April!