Sunday, August 16, 2009
Bees are a bust!
This was not a good year for bees on the Medley farm. I got off to a bad start in the spring when I saw the bees were dead and placed an order late in the season. I ordered from Walter T. Kelley this time because Rossman Apiaries was not taking any more orders by the time I finally got my act together and decided to give it a go again.
The bees were to arrive in late April and I hived them on April 29 (a day later than they were supposed to arrive priority mail from Kelley) and they didn't fare well. Half the boxed bees were DOA and I filed the insurance claim and they refunded the money encouraging me to go ahead and hive what I could salvage. I did and then had to physically release the queen myself after the bees didn't get her out three days later.
I left them alone for a while and decided to give them some time and space. That was probably NOT the best idea as it turns out because I don't know if the new queen was sick or injured or WHAT but when I finally went back to check on them about three weeks later, there was NO queen activity AT ALL. There should have been lots of eggs and brood by then in the hive body if all was well but there was nada, nothing, zippo. Just a reasonable mass of bees buzzing around still.
I called Rossman Apriaries up and thankfully they did still have queens. Twenty five dollars and two days later I had another new queen and I popped her cork and plunked her down into the hive. I checked a couple of days later and the bees had eaten through the sugar cap and she was out, supposedly to start doing her queenly duty.
I moved the hive back behind the barn this spring before this whole fiasco started thinking I would be more apt to keep an eye on them if they were closer and it wasn't such a hassle to schlep out there all the time.
I didn't treat the hive with anything last fall or this whole year and decided what would be would be. I just don't want to use those Apistan strips anymore. They are a nerve agent from what I've read and I just don't think that's probably a good idea really. Sure they'll keep the varroa mites at bay, but at what cost? I just don't know. You can't eat the honey that they strips have come in contact with but can eat the honey that the bees produce after the strips have been removed. You can't tell me there isn't still probably Apistan in there.
Anyway, today I finally went out there in the stinking heat and opened up the hive hoping for the best but it was not to be or bee. There were no bees, a few dead one's on the bottom of the hive, a bunch of roaches running for cover, a bazillion ants and several maggots from the wax moths that were preparing to take over the residence. That was all I could take. I cut the out every comb from every frame, scraped the whole hive down and cleaned it up as best I could in my pissy state and piled it up in the barn against the wall.
I kept one big bucket of wax thinking I might try to make a solar wax melter and melt it down, but do I even really want to use that wax for anything if some of it's had the Apistan strips near it? I don't know. I Googled solar wax melters and my heart just isn't in it. I piled the really gross wax comb up in the woods for whatever wants it. Knock yourselves out wax moths.
My bee suit is tumbling around in the dryer right now after it's first and only every washing. Maybe I'll use it next time I paint. Or to clean the chicken coop.
I'm done with bees for a while.
At least until spring, when the bug bites again...or maybe not. I'm feeling pretty disgruntled right now. I'm thinking I'll just buy my honey from someone who knows what the heck he's doing and has much more patience than me. I think I need pets with fur or feathers. Or maybe not any at all.
God Bless the beekeepers.
They need it.