One Year – Lessons learned
April 20th 2009
So I installed a new hive of Italian bees on the 19th..almost one year exactly from the day I installed the last two hives.
The major thought on my mind after one year is that I think I cared for them to death over the winter, at least in the case of two of the hives. Ironically the hive that I thought wouldn’t make it and thus did not give it a whole lot of attention over the winter is the only hive that is still around.
A short recap..I installed two hives of Italian bees, both hives swarmed, one escaped and I caught the other. I didn’t really think the swarm that I caught would survive because it’s numbers were so low and so I left it alone. The other two hives had a high number of bees and ultimately over the winter, the syrup I was feeding them dripped to the bottom of the hive and when the bees would try to leave the hive they would get stuck on the sticky bottom board and die. I thought it was just winter kill but I think it was this sticky board problem.
In April their numbers were really low, not even enough to fill the space between two frames. In trying to make things better I cleaned out the dead bees while it cooler than 55 degrees. Basically I disrupted them and exposed them to very chilly weather. When I went back a week ago one hive was completely gone and this week when I went back to install a new hive the other hive was completely gone as well.
I think I made conditions so bad that they left. I don’t think it was colony collapse disorder. I might think differently had things been fine and then one day they were gone. The week before they left there were just a small group huddled around the queen. They were not going outside, it was very quiet inside the hive. SO in the end so many had died by sticking to the bottom board that the few that were remaining said let’s get the hell out of here before he gets us too!