Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bees in Mass

A neighbor and fellow beekeeper stopped by this afternoon to see how my bees had over wintered.  Unfortunately, my bees did not fair well.  I had three hives going into the winter and all three died.  One was a dink going into the fall and I didn't expect it would make it.  Another, was a package that I struggled to get established last summer and the third was an overwintered hive that was very strong.  The strongest of the three died sometime in January when we had a long stretch of cold weather.  I'm not sure why they died as there was plenty of stores in the hive, lots of bees and no signs of disease I could see.  The best guess I had was that the humidity in the hive got too high and there was some condensation.  Cold doesn't kill bees but bad ventilation in a hive body will cause condensation which drips back down on the bees and kills them.

Dead bees on a frame in mid January.  More than half the frame was filled with honey which you can see on the left hand side of the frame near where my thumb is.

I was out of town over the weekend and missed the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association spring meeting.    My neighbor went and heard some grim news. A lot of bee keepers in MA are having problems this winter.  There may be a significant number of losses in the state this year.  We had a tough winter with extended periods of cold that kept the bees in the hive.  This can cause problems as the bees need to leave the hive occasionally to eliminate waste.  If they don't get these cleansing flights, it can cause problems.  He talked to one of the best bee keepers in the state and who happens to live nearby.  That guy lost all 25 of his hives.  That's a big hit.

I ordered three nucleus colonies from Merrimack Valley Apiaries.  The breeder queens these bees come from are instrumentally inseminated queens from Ohio beekeeper and all around nice guy Joe Latshaw.  His queens come highly recommended so I have high hopes for these nucs.  We have a lot of moisture in the form of rain and snow run off.  I'm hoping that translates into a good nectar flow and good bees this spring.  We'll see.