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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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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.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Crisis of Confidence with Apologies to Mo Willems

My bees and I are not having a great year.

Today I had electricians at my house so I was home more than usual during the work day.  I came home at 2 to see what progress was being made (turns out my whole house needed to be appropriately grounding so they put copper posts into the ground and ran wire to water pipes and put a surge protector on the whole house).

I glanced out into the bee yard and this is what I saw:

What's going on?  It couldn't be a beard - the other hives weren't bearding and rain was threatening.  Maybe they were absconding?   This is my best hive - the swarm hive from Patty.  It has done great this year and now it looks like they were leaving.

At 2:45 when I had to be back at my office at 3, I donned my bee veil and jacket, lit my smoker and took a quick look in to see if there were any bees or honey in the hive.

You can see the wet concrete from the rain.  And you can see that there are no bees to speak of in the hive.  I panicked.  Why are they going?  

I love the Mo Willems books and one of them is called I am Going.    I felt so like Gerald (the elephant in the story) today.

Piggie is leaving.

Gerald does not understand why Piggie is leaving and he says,  
Go later!  
Go tomorrow! 
Go next week!  
Go next month! 

But Piggie replies, "I am going now."

"NOW!?!" says Gerald, "Why, Piggie?"
"Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?....."

That's exactly how I felt....thank you, Mo.  So I opened up the hive and looked deeper into it.  It was full of honey I haven't harvested yet because the year has been so bad and I don't want them to be without stores.  Usually when bees abscond, they take whatever stores are in the hive with them, so this doesn't make sense - lots of honey, no bees.

When I put it back together, the bees were still outside.  I wanted to cry.  Instead as the thunder and rain began, I covered the hive, bees and all with the wet sheet I used on another hive being robbed yesterday and went back to the office.

When I returned at the end of the day, amidst more thunder, this is what I found under the sheet:

When I put the Billy Davis robber screen on this particular hive, the bees pooled on the ground outside the hive.  The next day they were all back in the hive, but I think they don't like the robber screen one little bit.  So one thing I did today was to pull the robber screen off (see photo two above).  

At 8:30 when the hive looked like it does in the last photo, I started thinking the queen was outside the hive in this huge cluster.  So I treated it like a swarm and put them into a box and shook them back into the hive.  They'll probably leave tomorrow.  I feel totally disheartened and want to scream.  

At 9 PM, this is what they look like:

And as per Mo Willems, now I want to say:

"You are going?!  
You are going away?!"

Bees:  Yes.

"You cannot go!  
You must not go!  

But what I know is that I am not in charge.  

I will feel defeated if they fly off tomorrow.  As I usually do, I will probably lick my wounds and keep on keeping on, but it won't feel good.  

It just won't.


  1. Oh no! How very disheartening:( I love following your blog, but today I just feel so sad for you xox

  2. Anonymous2:11 AM

    "Crisis of Confidence" in biological systems.

    It is very interesting.

    1. I wasn't confident in the biological system - my crisis of confidence was in myself as a beekeeper!

  3. My first thought was the electricians put an electrical charge through the ground when they grounded your house. This could have disrupted the bees, especially since it was raining. Just a thought but maybe you could investigate that possibility. I hope your bees decide to stay. Good Luck

  4. That is such an interesting thought...especially since the bees appeared to be leaving without taking all of their honey. The two 8 foot copper posts that they drove into the ground are about 10 feet from this hive. They pushed into the very wet Atlanta ground with their bodies but had to drive the last foot with jack hammers - imagine how the bees must have felt. No wonder they gathered outside of the hive - makes me think of an earthquake and what effect that might have on a hive. I don't think they shot a current through the line but the jackhammers must have been awful. I was at the office at the time.


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