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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Death of a Hive

Today I came home in the middle of the day - it was finally 68 degrees on a day when I had a break to inspect the hives. I opened Destin to find that all of the bees had died. Apparently they starved to death. I am so very sad. I had fed this hive with a jar of sugar syrup but had not replenished it before the 20 degree weather we had two weeks ago because I knew the hive had stores of honey in frames and didn't want to open the hive in such cold weather. I am SO SORRY that I didn't. The pictures below show what happens when a hive starves.

In the cold the bees cluster in a ball around their stores of honey. These bees are on either side of two frames, completely empty of honey. Some of them are deep in the cells trying to find the very last of the honey. The sad part is that there were four full medium frames of honey below them in the medium super (these bees are in the shallow super at the top level of the hive.)
Below are all the dead bees on the screened bottom board. I looked everywhere for the dead queen and couldn't find her anywhere.

I looked at every frame in the hive and couldn't find the dead queen nor any evidence that she had been there for a while. The red maple began blooming at the end of January and bees have been beginning to build brood since that time. There was no capped brood or larvae of any kind in this hive. I suspect that the queen died at some point over the winter and the hive has dwindled until it died altogether.

Well, I'm trying hard not to feel like a bad beekeeper because I didn't know they were starving, but it's hard to know that I could have kept them alive. Of course, if the queen were dead, I couldn't have done much about that without knowing.

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