Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Death of Walter Gives Life to Ora

On Wednesday, after I discovered that my Walter hive had died, I spent a short time inspecting the frames in the shallow super. Two frames on each side were partially filled and capped with sourwood honey. The remaing 6 frames were pretty much empty except for the headfirst bodies of dead bees. There was also a small cluster of dead bees toward the front center. The day was fairly mild and there were a few days flying outside Ora. I had some sugar syrup made up and put the boardman feeder on the top of the hive. The bees were taking some of the food, but the day cooled quickly and most bees disappeared back inside. Thursday was a different story! I started inspecting the brood box in Walter about 11:30 and shortly after many, many bees started pouring out of Ora. My compost boxes sit right next to the hives and I close the hinged tops and the boxes make a great work table. I had removed the frames containing the sourwood and it didn't take the girls long to find the golden honey. They were also going crazy in the boardman. The picture above shows lots of bees flying and also a mass of bees on the bottom entrance. Below, I moved 1 of the frames of honey to the open top of Walter so I could continue working on the other frames. (These were some of the first frames I had ever built and I needed to add nails to the bottoms as some were coming apart from the weight of the honey they had once contained.) There were bees everywhere!

Above and below, bees eating that golden sourwood. Since the girls were paying very little attention to me, I used my hive tool and scraped away some of the cappings to make their work a little easier. I didn't get a picture, but after I removed the cappings, this frame was black with bees.

Below, bees are taking advantage of every drop of honey they can find - wax cappings, nail that I used to scrape the hive tool and even the hive tool, although the photo missed the one that was feeding there.

Friday was another beautiful day and I spent much of the late morning working with Ora. I gave the bees another quart of sugar syrup and also opened the rest of the capped sourwood. I left the brood box and the super open and the girls spent lots of time cleaning out all the honey and stored pollen they could find. I feel encouraged about this colony of bees but winter is a long way from being over in the mountains and I won't stop worrying soon.

I'm sad over the loss of Walter. I've questioned things I did or didn't do. I've talked to friends, got the Ross Conrad book out and started reading, again. I appreciate the encouraging comments here and by email. Beekeepers truly are a fraternity of friends and I'm proud to be part of that group even though we never agree on anything. I'll post next on what I didn't find in Walter and what I think may have happened.


Jared said...

IWalter might not have been anything more than a bad queen genetics, or them not getting to the honey stores you had for them... Don't frett. You still have a VERY stong hive from the looks of it!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Lynn! Isn't it great that some sort of positive came from the negative? Ora can give life to Walter and this spring, Walter will spring back to life better than ever. Honestly, I think you did all you could to keep Walter going, but sometimes destiny is in the cards and you can't change it. But it will be just a few months now and you'll be babying a new colony along. Loved the pictures too! By the way, thanks for the email with the top-bar information! I really appreciate it!

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

We're being investigators and we do our bee forensics. What happened? Did I do something wrong? I very much understand how you feel. I visited my hives on the weekend and found what I'm sure is an overlarge pile of dead bees out front. I think that hive might be starving - so now I'm looking for ways to help them before it's too late. It's such a delicate and difficult balance isn't it?

İlhami Uyar said...

İn my opinion problem is starving,Dont wörry ,I beleive that you can solve problems ,best wishes

evangelos naxios said...

Ειναι πολλοι οι λογοι,οι αιτιες που χαθηκε το μελισσι,δεν πειραζει.Δεν αφινουμε τροφες εξω ,θα εχουμε λεηλασια.Καλη συνεχεια!

Cliff W said...

Like you say it is good to see some benefit coming from poor Walter's demise. Beautiful photos by the way. Wonderful lighting. Did you get a new camera - it looks slightly different somehow? I hope you manage to get to the bottom of what happened in Walter.

Paul said...

I have nothing to add other than next year we will be prepared. I lost a hive as well this year.