Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Do bees need keepers?

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska Updated: June 21, 2012 - 4:20 PM

 

Bees fascinate me.  In each of the 15 years since we’ve been keeping bees, something amazing always happens – sometimes good and sometimes bad.  This year is no different. 

 

Last fall, we had four viable hives.  We put winter cover on two of the hives (basically it’s a black wax covered cardboard box to help protect against the wind and wet of winter).  We only had two at the time but snow usually helps protect the hives throughout the winter.  Well, it was a no-snow winter and the two hives we did not cover died.

In March we scraped out all the dead bees and left the hives in place.  We left the hives with great plans to buy more bees and re-populate.  We checked on the other two hives that had covers, they were fine; we gave them some pollen, took off the winter covers and let them go find nectar.

In April and May between family issues and rain, we couldn’t even check on the bees.  The two hives that are next to our cabin remained empty and we turned off the electric fence.  We missed the chance to buy new bees and planned

on moving the hives to the other location when the road dried out.  Memorial day, sopping wet, no chance to check. 

 

Then last weekend, early June we finally had enough sunshine and dry ground to check on the four boxes.  One of the hives near the cabin looked promising, but how could it.  We cleaned it out.  It was dead!  After suiting up, we approached the apiary.  Checking out the first box that showed no activity, we saw what we expected.  Nothing.  Then we went into the other box that we THOUGHT was dead.  To our amazement, there were bees.  And more important than bees, we saw larvae.  That is a sign that a queen is present and we have a viable hive.

Could it have been a swarm that somehow found its way to this empty box?  Could a small fraction of larvae emerged and started their own colony.  And how do they figure that out?

That’s why bees amaze me.

 

To finish the story, we traveled to the second apiary two miles away only to find one viable hive.  So we did a divide (took some bees and larvae and put them in the empty box) and hope to have two hives there.  We know we are lazy beekeepers this year, but family first and weather happens.  If we get honey, we’ll be happy, if not that’s OK too because these insects certainly fascinate me!

 

 

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