When I tell other beekeepers my hives have absconded, they all say, it must have been the small hive beetle. But I didn't have a big SHB population this year. The hive with the worst hive beetles is still alive in Sebastian's yard.
Most of the discovery of empty hives came in late July. I think it was about no stores. The bees couldn't collect enough honey during the honey flow because it literally rained every day. Then in July they were still hopeful that there was honey somewhere - just not in their area, so they left. Every hive I opened had NO DEAD BEES - just emptiness. There was absolutely no honey and very little brood and the bees were totally gone.
- The hive at the Morningside garden had a pesticide kill and never recovered. It was a tragedy because that was an amazing hive. The split beside it never took off and simply dwindled away.
- Both hives at Chastain absconded. No dead bee bodies were in either hive and no stores.
- The hives at Stonehurst Inn are both there and doing fine. One is a hive that moved into a dead hive in early August.
- At Sebastian's one hive left - no bodies, no stores left behind - and the other hive is there - it's going OK, but there are SHB in that hive. I have two different traps on that hive - at the entrance and in between the frames, but the beetles are still there.
- At Ron's the splits never became thriving hives. One colony hived there absconded. I replaced it with a Wilbanks hive and they left too. Ron's theory was that the pesticides Emory uses on its campus and in the neighborhood where Ron's house is made the location one that was bad for bees. Whatever it was, they left lock, stock, and barrel with no bodies left behind.
- At my own house, my best swarm hive absconded when the electricians used jack hammers about five feet away from them. I had a queen excluder on that hive below the bottom box, and found the queen still in the box. I made a split and put them in a nuc, but the queen is not in the nuc and the bees are almost dwindled away. A swarm hive in my yard also absconded as well as the only hive other than Morningside that I had left as the year started.
- I do have one solitary hive in my backyard. It's the swarm I collected near Northlake and is going gangbusters. I put a feeder on this hive although it was heavy with honey and the bees only just began to take the bee tea. They totally ignored it for about two weeks.
I've had a terrible bee year. And I got no honey. I harvested one box from the Morningside hive but the honey is too thin - 19.2% water. And if I had left that box on the hive maybe those bees would still be alive.
So I'm going into winter with six hives and I've been feeding them bee tea like there's no tomorrow.
Here are the two hives at Stonehurst. I have put almost three gallons of bee tea on these hives. I feel disheartened, though, because there are roaches under the cover of the hive on the left and every hive I've had with roaches eventually dies during the winter.
Here's the bee tea. The leaves floating in it are thyme. You can see the bees crawling up the inner tube to get the welcomed food.
This is the hive at Sebastian's that I fed the same day. You'd love to see me visit that hive. Sebastian's new house has a tall gate with the latch on the inside. To get to the bees, I have to take a Rubbermaid stool and stand on it, reach over the gate and feel for the lock, slide it open and open the gate. I repeat the action on the stool when I leave!
In this hive there were these little black things that I thought were mouse droppings, but at close look on my computer screen, they are dead small hive beetles.
This hive appears to be doing well going in to winter, but I have two different versions of SHB trap on the hive and still there are these random dead beetles littering the inner cover.
It's going down to the 20s tonight. I hope the feeding I've been doing of all of these hives will keep the hives alive as winter descends.