I began a new hobby this year. I started an apiary. It’s really hard to call it an apiary because, as of right now, my apiary only consists of two hives. And now, from what you see in the photo above, possibly only one and a half hives. It appears as though one of my hives “swarmed”–meaning the old queen took off with a goodly number of her worker bees. In spring and early summer, a swarm is not a bad thing. It leaves room for more bee production in a hive and is nature’s way of assuring the bees multiple and stay strong in the environment. In fall, swarming is, well…not so good. Not only does it leave a hive weaker, it’s also a dim fate for those bees who swarmed and now have to build a new hive and stores for the winter. Since bees draw their stores from nectar on blooming flowers, fall swarms spell trouble for those that swarmed and those that remain.
I’m all for letting nature take her course, but there are likely things I could have done to at least try and prevent my bees from failing.
Lessons learned. I suspect that the dry weather, which lent itself to a lesser number of blooms and nectar to be harvested, contributed to my hive’s swarming. I feel badly. But I’ll try and do my best to salvage the remaining girls and secure them for the upcoming colder weather. Bales of hay will surround their hives and roofing paper will wrap them tightly, all but for a small entrance that will allow them excursions to use the facilities on a warmer winter day (bees are very clean and “hold it” until they have a chance to fly out and relieve themselves when, on that rare winter day, the sun comes out).
Honey bees have been a disappearing phenomenon in the last decade. Studies vary on why–pesticides…cell phone towers…you name it. The theories abound. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my girls hunker down and make it through the winter. Bees are essential to life, more than most realize. Without them, crops are not pollinated and food does not grow. Period.
These tiny girls are one small thread of hope for the future. Keep your fingers crossed for them, please.