Yep, this is what I found last weekend when I went out to start feeding the girls:
Are the bees still alive? from ron upshaw on Vimeo.
I waited a few days and looked inside. NO BEES. So I took the top feeder off and heard the sound all bee keepers dread - silence. Not one buzzzzzz.
Dead Bees from ron upshaw on Vimeo.
So I took the entire hive down to Trees N' Bees in Auburn to ask the experts what went wrong. Their opinion what that the hive tried to supersede, or make a new Queen. That means one of the following bad things happened:
1) The original Queen left the hive and a swarm followed her. That would mean at least half of the bees would be gone in a swarm leaving a very weak hive for the winter.
2) I accidentally killed the Queen when we took the honey last year. The Hive would then try to make a new Queen, but it might have turned cold by then - weak hive - cold - dead.
3) The Hive 'decided' to produce a new Queen because she was weak or not laying enough eggs. When that happens, usually they make a bunch of Queen cells. When the new Queens hatch - they fight each other for the hive, so Queens then die or leave/swarm - weak hive - cold - dead.
But the silver lining is that there didn't seem to be any diseases in the hive, and I've contacted several other Pacific Northwest beekeepers and they have lost their hives this winter too. It was a very cold one for NW standards.
So this weekend I bought about $500 worth of new gear, ordered two new packages of bees, and set out to paint and repair everything... oh and I had some visitors:
Painting the bee hives from ron upshaw on Vimeo.
So now I need to get my apiary ready for a new hive by April, and we'll see if I do better this year.
See you next time