One dead hive after all

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Apparently I was too soon with my celebration that both my hives survived winter. As it would seem that my second colony, which was the weakest by far, didn’t make it after all. There were apparently too few bees to make it through the colder nights since the last time I checked. Beside that the frames on the outside of the hive were filed with mold, quite badly (the first picture above). My parents made the discovery of the passing of the colony today. They also made the pictures. If I have to make an artificial swarm this year I’ll make sure to keep it at my local apiary so I don’t have to make the thirty minute drive to check on my bees in my parents garden. I also wasn’t taught that you could keep an artificial swarm next to the original colony, but you can (when taking the right precautions).

Looking at the top-bars  it doesn’t look good but reading this article (as well as this article from the same source) I gather that mold in a hive in/after winter is not so strange. This second colony had the old queen (from 2010) that I was going to replace this year anyway but loosing the entire colony was not part of the plan. I guess I’ll have to see it as a learning experience, that what I actually should have done is combine the colonies at the end of summer to create one strong one. But I reasoned that if I were to do that I would be left with one colony anyway because my first colony looked to be strong enough to survive winter I was in no real danger of losing that colony. So I gambled the second colony and I lost.

Now the time for questioning my decisions has arrived. What could I have done better? What could I have done to ensure the survival of the second colony. I think the answer to that is most likely that I shouldn’t have placed the hive in a food desert, which my parents home apparently is. There are some gardens in the vicinity, my mothers being one, but I guess they weren’t enough to support a viable colony, most is farmland. The smaller town at bout 3-4 kilometres (2-2,5 miles) apparently was slightly too far and/or didn’t have enough flowers for the bees.

To end on a more positive note; my wife took these pictures bellow in the city where we live. Crocuses are literally all over the place, especially in the parks but also by the roadside. I will visit my city bees in my first hive (to which I should simply refer to as “my hive”, as it now is my only hive) this weekend to do some housekeeping. Select which frames I will scrap this year and which will last for another year, reduce the size of the hive from two to one brood box and see if they need some additional feeding. Then I will leave them to their own devises for about two weeks?

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6 thoughts on “One dead hive after all

  1. Sorry to hear this 😦 If the colony was small, you could perhaps have replaced some of the outer frames furthest from the cluster with dummy boards to try and keep the heat in. And also placed fondant on top of the frames (with an eke to provide space).

    1. Thanks. Yes, I did think about the dummy boards idea, perhaps using those would have been better. Part of the problem was that the hive was by no means close to my home. I wasn’t sure on the amount of winter feed the bees were taking in as I was leaving that task to my mother who’s hive that was meant to be. But I don’t can’t give her the demise of the colony, it was my choice not to combine the colonies.

      1. It’s more difficult when the bees are a distance away, I have that problem with my bees too as I need to take two buses to reach them.

      2. That is very sub-optimal. I live a 5 to 10 minute drive/cycle from the apiary, which is doable. Having a large enough garden to situate your bees, preferably near the city or in a town with enough bee friendly gardens would be ideal. But at the moment that’s just a pipe dream.

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