First Spring Inspection & Sad News

Hives in Morganton

It’s been a long time coming, but last week Wayne finally had time to head out to our land and check on the bees.  The hive stand & hives as he found them are above.  One obstacle hurdled.  There has been some bear activity around our land over the last few years and I was a bit afraid of leaving the hives with no one living on the property and no bear fence.  I was half expecting to find the hives demolished – either from a bear, a raccoon, or some other small animal who felt it was worth the trouble.  It seems we did okay though.

As soon as he arrived, he noticed activity from the hive on the right.  Nothing much at all from the one on the left.  Not a great sign.

He started the inspection with the hive on the right and was excited to see this when the box was opened:

Activity in the Hives

Any activity was a good sign overall.  And after pulling out a frame or two:

Brood Frames

Not too shabby.  The pattern looks decent although they haven’t filled out much of the frame yet.  I don’t believe that’s a swarm cell at the bottom – maybe just funky shaped comb? Wayne did mention that quite a few cells were in between frames and that he broke open several by accident when pulling the boxes apart.  He even thought he got a quick peek at the queen as she was running across one of the frames.

The other hive was the polar opposite.  I mentioned a lack of activity and Wayne was disheartened (but not surprised) to open the box and find this:

Cluster

A tell-tale sign that the bees starved.  The cluster is in tact, but all dead.  He said the frames had bees and he was a bit confused at first but realized they were in their standard starvation stance – heads down in the cells, searching for honey.  The bottom of the box at the screened bottom board looked like this:

Bottom of the Hive

I’ve been reading lots of accounts of starvation on various beekeeper blogs around the world over the last two weeks.  I know it is something that beekeepers just have to learn to deal with periodically, but I’m thankful I wasn’t there to find it.  I guarantee it would have brought me to tears.  It’s been a week now since he went and even looking at these pictures is incredibly hard.  I keep playing the “if only” game: if we’d only fed them one more time….if we’d only been out earlier to inspect the hive…etc, etc.  I know it is pointless.  It won’t change fact that we lost the hive and all we can do is try to be more diligent moving forward with the two we have remaining.

In better news (because I couldn’t stand to end on that note), Wayne did have a chance to visit with the hive in our backyard today and all looks well.  He saw the queen, saw lots of brood and honey, and added a super to give them lots of room to fill.

Here’s to hoping for a successful beekeeping year ahead!