2019 – The season of doom

2019: Uncatchable swarms

See the top of that tree? That’s how high they went. Every. Time.

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For the first swarm, we called Chris Veazey who climbs trees for a living. He graciously climbed this pine tree covered in poison ivy and with no bee jacket.

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Alas, they re-swarmed across the street while he was attempting to remove them. Huge kudos for the effort.

We had a total of 7 swarms (that we know of) with every one of them completely out of reach. While swarms are a “good” and “natural” thing, it didn’t help us much. We replaced 3 queens, but they weren’t able to recover.

2019: A new allergy

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Dan has had some ridiculous reactions to bee stings; especially if they got him in the foot. It would turn red and swell up like a balloon for days. On one special occasion, while mowing the lawn, he got attacked – his face turned red, he had trouble breathing, and he puked on the way to our (thankfully super close) doctors’ office. He had his first ambulance ride to the emergency room at Strong where it was confirmed he was in anaphylaxis.

I was ready to quit beekeeping because I prefer he not die, but instead, he started going to an immunologist for weekly bee venom injections. These are 97% effective in preventing allergic reactions and they are currently reduced to one shot per month.

2019: My first year doing this:

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Do you see her? I found her, smushed her with my hive tool, and watched her insides come out.

 

I replaced her with a “nice” queen immediately after.

 

We were able to extract about 10 gallons of honey in July and absolutely none in the fall. The hives were so weak after all the swarming that I combined our hives into 4. I treated them for mites, made sure they had enough food for the winter and closed shop for the season.

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Dan got this extra gigantic full-body bee suit for Christmas to prevent the girls from sneaking in for a complimentary sting.

He also promises to wear shoes AND socks in the backyard from now on.

 

 

 

2020: An adventurous year so far

Screen Shot 2020-04-12 at 6.53.22 PMI gave them a bunch of sugar patties to make sure they were still well fed and hoped for the best. A month later we were down to 2 hives. A week after that, 1 hive.

And then last week, this happened:Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 11.01.32 PM

IMG_2789So, so, so, lame. This is the first year since my first year of beekeeping that I lost 100% of our colonies. Three hives appear to have died from mites, and one died from humidity/mold.

Some positive things:

  • We completed our first course in the eCornell Master Beekeeping program and start our next course next week
  • We sold out of honey thanks to our amazing neighbors
  • Without honey, we were able to expand a little and sell lip balm and bath bombs
  • We’ve made some new friends
  • Our new set of bees will be arriving soon

Interesting fact: Our amazing health insurance, which I am forever grateful for, is the only reason that we can afford both immunotherapy and EpiPens, and therefore continue beekeeping (for now).

 

God save the queen

We did the spring inspection before picking up our new girls today. I knew they were active, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they were doing. Those are some worker cells in the top left of this first photo. Can you find the queen?

fullsizeoutput_a4fThere she is! She is seriously beautiful. Look how all of her workers are doting on her.

fullsizeoutput_a51We had to pick up our package bees this afternoon, which meant we needed to clean out one of our dead hives. I chose this one. This is what it looks like when a colony starves over the winter.

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Starvation causes them to drop directly to the bottom board. What was extra gross about this one, is the hive was tipped back a little due to the ground settling, and water gathered in the back of the bottom board. The scent of dead, moldy bees was absolutely foul. They sure had enough honey- in fact we are extracting honey from a few of the full frames they left behind. This was a weak colony, and I was not expecting them to survive.

Interesting fact: I did not get stung today, but I should have with all the time I spent harassing them.

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