Sunday, January 12, 2014

To Bee or not to Bee

We tried bee-keeping last year and met with disaster.

We had purchased a pack of carnolian bees from Queen's Right Colonies in Spencer, Ohio in January and eagerly awaited their arrival.

We picked up our bees in early May and brought them home to their new hive at Stonepath.

From the start things seemed wrong. The hive frames were not filling quickly, but being new to bee-keeping no alarm bells sounded.

In the middle of July, we began to notice lots of dead and dying bees on the path leading to the hive. When I say lots. I mean hundreds or more.

We talked to some other bee-keepers and they thought that perhaps the bees got into insecticides at a field nearby.

We helplessly watched as the hive dwindled in size. Eventually, they could no longer defend the hive from wasps, flys, and other intruders.

Eventually, in early August we found the hive empty. Our thought was that the hive had swarmed.

We were heart-broken and not sure that we wanted to try again. It seemed to us that we lacked the ability to keep bees.

Flash forward to yesterday. We decided to find some answers and make a decision to try again or not based on what we found.

We printed pictures of the hive at various points when we knew we were in trouble. We took those pictures and the hive, itself, to Queen's Right Colonies to, hopefully, get some answers.

The owner of Queen's Right, looked at our evidence and immediately deduced that all the cells made were drone cells. No worker cells were evident.

His conclusion was that we had a sterile queen.

The hive was doomed from the start. There was evidence that the drones had tried to stave off disaster by building queen cells, but with a sterile queen there was no hope.

The bottom line was that our hive did not swarm, it just faded away.

The good news is that it was not our fault. The only way we might have prevented the catastrophe was by recognizing the problem early.

Joining a local bee-keeper group is now our top priority. The experience that such clubs offer might have help us to identify our problem and perhaps find a solution.

Armed with new confidence, some answers, and a lots of good information, we ordered another pack of bees for this spring!

1 comment:

  1. Aww. Sorry to hear your queen was sterile. Maybe you will have better luck this year!