LOST: Bees

The bees seemingly active

We love being beekeepers.  We buy special smaller (more natural) sized bees and don’t treat them with any chemicals.  We only feed them honey and Mike makes them special homes that allow them to live closer to how they would in the wild.  We started with two colonies two years ago and added three more last spring for a total of 5 beehives.

After last winter’s unusually cold temperatures (25 below) and the drought that followed in the spring and summer we decided to take them down to my parents house this winter to give them a little R & R.  My parents live a quarter mile from the Rio Grande river in the middle of an area full of small farms filled with alfalfa and flowers.  One night late last fall we waited until after dark so that we were sure everyone was home and sealed the hives.  We packed them in the truck and drove them down to their winter home.  All seemed well.  We set them up and filled their feeders with honey to help them get through the winter.

If they don’t have enough honey stored up we feed them until it gets too cold.  You can kill them if you open the hive in very cold tempertures.  They work hard to keep the hive around 92 degrees year round.   Our two older hives were well established.  The three new ones not so much.  When we fed them the last time we crossed our fingers and wished them luck.

St. Patricks day was a glorious day in Albuquerque.  It was our first time opening the hives since late last fall.  The month before I had visited them and seen activity (although little) in most of the hives.  My Dad reported that the largest hive had bees coming and going last week.  Mike and I went out to the bee yard with our hands full of jars of honey.  We opened the first hive…nothing…not one bee.  It was weird because they still had lots of honey stored away in the combs.

We went to the second hive…nothing, no honey, no bees…

the third…nothing

the fourth…three combs of bees frozen in time,  huddled in balls looking busy but not moving.  They were all dead.

The bees frozen in time

the fifth…empty.

We don’t know why at this point.  I took some photos and will forward them off to a bee mentor and see if he has answers.

For now we are very sad…the feelings are similar to when we lost an entire batch of baby chicks.  We feel somehow responsible like we got demoted from bee keepers to bee havers.

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