Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Aw, Poop!

I'm feeling pretty bummed and sad tonight. Granted it's not because of any of the REAL problems so many people are facing these days. Just a little frustration and disappointment relating to our homestead.

Roy got out to check the bee hives this afternoon to see how they made it through the winter. We went into fall with five strong hives. Today we found we have only two very, very weak ones populated with a small number of bees.

Looks like the winter was just too long, cold, and sunless. They had enough food to sustain them over winter but apparently too few days warm enough for them to get out for their necessary brief cleansing flights. The insides of the hives were all plastered with bee poop and even the "insulated" hives we experimented with didn't seem to provide the needed protection for the bees from the extremely cold, sunless days.

Wintering bees has always been the biggest hurdle for beekeepers to overcome in our locale. And obviously, once more, it's proved to be a big problem again this year. The Chief Beekeeper is too stubborn to give up though. He feels there must be a way. He just needs to keep experimenting and trying different things until he figures it out.

We'll be doing a lot of rebuilding of our bee population this spring and summer. Checking with the rest of our bee keeping friends in the county will perhaps give us a clue as to how we could have done something differently. We're hoping they had better luck than we did this winter.


Claire said...

I'm so sorry about your bees! That is sad. And discouraging. I hope the ones that survived are super tough bees that can repopulate your.....herd? pack? What do you call a group of bees?

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mama Pea, that's way too bad. Is it too late to order more bees and start over again?

Mama Pea said...

Claire - Technicially, a group of bees is called a hive or a swarm. Neither quite do it for me as I think of "hive" more as the physical structure where they live, and "swarm" to us has always been the cluster of bees that breaks off and leaves the hive when it gets too crowded. (I think I'll just wander on out and take a look at my herd [pack? tribe? gaggle? flock?] of bees now.)

Ruthie - We'll work on encouraging the surviving bees to repopulate. We'll also probably be able to get some "extras" from bee keeping friends if they fared better than we did.