Lesson Learnt :(

Since the move to their new location Phoebee (she’s blonde) and her daughters have been doing very well. I noticed that there was MASSIVE crop of oil seed rape (canola) coming in to flower over the road to where I keep the hive. I expanded their space upto 16 top bars (from 12, some partial) in order to give them room to expand.

So much oil seed rape can be something of a mixed blessing to a new beekeeper. The colony growth curve to beekeeper learning curve don’t necessarily track. As it was the weather wasn’t great so they had only limited foraging opportunity keeping things steady.

I then went on holiday with my wife. The weather was glorious, which was lovely for the holiday but did make me worry about the bees (please don’t tell my wife that I was thinking about the bees whilst on holiday with her). With the weather as nice as it was they would easily fill the space I have left them and then some.

I returned home expected to see them bursting at the seams and preparing to swarm. What I was actually greeted with was a hive that hadn’t done much at all. They had stored some honey sure, but not as much as I would have expected, and there seemed to be only about half the number of bees in there. There was lots of brood but the bees present in the hive didn’t even look enough to cover it! Then I noticed a few of the bees looked as though they had talcum powder on them and it came to me. The owner of the rapeseed field had sprayed his crops whilst I was away and wiped out all the foragers. On reflection I should certainly have contacted all the local farmers and explained to them that I was keeping bees in the area. Although the farmer assured me the spray he was using for “bee-friendly” I explained that it doesn’t really matter how friendly the thing you are drowning in is. Although clueless he was very understanding and I now have an agreement with him that when possible they will spray pre-10am or post-6pm. If this isn’t possible they will let me know in advance so I can block the bees in for the day. A hard-learnt lesson that once again gave the bees a severe knock.

That was nearly two weeks ago. I have left them alone since as I believe that they will recover better on their own than they will with me “helping”. I have noted a steadily increasing number of flying bees, with plenty of orientation flights. They are not at the strength I had hoped they would be for May but it looks as though are at least recovering.

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2 Responses to Lesson Learnt :(

  1. Julie says:

    When you said there were only half the number of bees in the hive, I thought you were going to follow that up with “they swarmed.” Spraying! Ugh! I’m so sorry to hear about your bees dying. At least the farmer was willing to work with you about spray times.

    Btw, I went on vacation for a week last year while my bees were building comb like gangbusters. Worried they would swarm, I slipped several empty bars into the brood nest so it looked something like — comb, comb, empty, comb, comb, empty… You get the picture. That worked out beautifully for me. Of course, it would have been horrible if you’d done that because your bees had all been killed. I only mention it as a thought for next time you go on holiday.

    Hope your bees recover quickly!

  2. deweysanchez says:

    Thanks Julie. Let’s hope they bounce back. I will have a look in past the follower board this weekend. Thanks for the tip.

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