“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20, 2010

The "log hive" did not survive.

The hive just didn’t seem right the other day. Something drew me over to look at it and the entrance was crowded and blocked with dead bees. It’s not abnormal to have dead bees out side the hive, but usually they are pushed out of the entrance by the bees inside. That is a sign of activity. But no bees pushed these out…

I pushed off the bales of straw that I had put around the hive to help insulate it and protect it from winds, and pried up the cover. This time, no bees rose up to protect the hive, like they had back in January when I slipped in a frame of honey and got stung. I looked down through the tight spaces between the frames to see if there was a ball of bees, but there was none. The spaces between were empty.

There was only one thing left to do and that was to lift out frames and see what was going on. I found the bees dead, piled up on the bottom board.

I am still in a bit of shock. I was almost certain that these gals were going to make it. When I last posted about them, I called them survivors….

After I made that post, the weather got very, very, cold and for two weeks the temperatures hardly ever climbed above freezing. The bees just froze. There just were not enough bees inside the hive to create the necessary body heat to keep the hive from chilling down for that length of time. They just couldn’t keep up with the cold.

The whole experience that I have had with this cluster of bees really underscores how they could not survive man. Their home was destroyed by chainsaws and then they were soaked down with “Raid”. The refugees were left too few and too weakened to make it. Loss of habitat and the misuse of pesticides seem to be our ways of ignorance these days. And bees are only one of the infinite numbers of species affected.

Have we become so disconnected as a culture to think that we can survive without natural things? I think that this ever stretching separation will eventually become the crevice we cannot cross…and then, finding ourselves alone in this world, we too will die.

Note: I have two remaining colonies, and I am hoping for the best. Quite a few of the other beekeepers in the area have lost hives due to mites and / or starving due to lack of reserves. It’s proving to be a hard winter on bees in our area.

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