We have officially made it to spring, with summerlike temperatures coming in Northern WI, this week. We are finally out of the bitter cold and the bees have SURVIVED. This is such a small but absolutely incredible milestone for us. If we can continue this going forward, we may have actually been on too something.
However, with celebration also comes a small bit of sadness. As of April 29th, both hives were buzzing around like crazy and loving the warm temperatures. It was still getting a bit chilly at night, so we kept the shavings boxes on and we continued monitoring them and checking their food. All was well until one day it wasn’t.
When we checked the first hives food we had placed in there, to see if we needed to add more or if they were even eating it. The first hive was doing really well, they’ve been snacking on the food, they’re buzzing around a lot.
Moved over to the second hive and lifted the lids and there was still food however VERY minimal bees. To the point where its concerning enough, we need to tear into this and see what’s happening.
Pulled each box down and looked and there was maybe a handful of bees left but they were moving extremely slow. I have never seen a bee move this slow, unless they were sick or dying. Next day rolls around and all the bees have officially died, despite them having food and being just fine a week ago.
What Do You Think Happened?
You are probably wondering at this point, what had happened? Well, we are not entirely sure as we have NEVER made it to Spring with our hives. We can only assume that the Queen had died at some point throughout the winter.
I don’t know if you remember back a couple months ago, in one of my posts I had talked about how we were losing a lot of bees and that it could possibly be from not having a Queen. When a bee dies, eventually all the eggs that were laid have hatched, there will be no more new bees fertilized. So if she is gone, the remainder of the Larva will hatch and than the hive is done for.
From what we can tell, the Queen more than likely died maybe a few months back and we just got to the last of the bees she had fertilized. Had this had happened in the middle of the summer, we would have had the chance to place a new Queen inside of this hive. But unfortunately with Wisconsin’s frigid temps, you cannot open a hive to inspect it completely. This is a chance we would be taking, no matter the hive.
Why would she have died ?
When you receive a new hive, the hive comes with a new Queen. The Queen you receive is not the Queen of that hive originally. At least, from the place we purchase our hives from, that is how it works. So technically, we do not know how old that Queen is or if she is any good. More than likely she was placed inside this hive, because she was supposed to be a good queen but she may have already been a year or two old. The average Queen Bee only lives 1-2 years, so it is quite possible that is why she had died in the middle of winter.
This is no fault of our own, we are certain we did all that we could do. This is unfortunately just a chance we would be taking when winterizing them, where you cannot open the hive to see how they are doing. It definitely stinks and we were really confident in this hive but things happen and we will continue on.
What Is In Store For Us Next?
We still have one more hive and that one seems to be doing very well so far. They are eating the food we have given them and we noticed last week they were collecting pollen from the Dandelions in the yard. They are now getting to work and we can start feeding them sugar water. The sugar water boosts the hive and gets them working so they can create more honey and than we can hopefully harvest this summer.
We did not harvest last year, so our supply of honey has started to get low. Mark and I are looking forward to being able to harvest honey this summer and possibly share some with some close friends and family. Mark and I do this for fun, so we do not sell our honey, we just love watching the bees and learning more and more about them every day.
Be sure to continue watching the blog for upcoming posts. I am really looking forward to doing more posts about how our bees are doing.
Much Love & Honey,
Megan and Mark