Winter Loses


Spring can be a significant challenge for bees and beekeepers. These early spring day bring with it warmer temperatures, allowing beekeepers to access the strength of hives, feed if necessary and plan for the season. The other unfortunate but unavoidable task is removing dead hives.

Of our thirty hives, we lost nine this spring. It never makes sense these losses. We do all the right things, use integrated pest management practices, replace old comb, treat for mites, leave them with lot of honey each fall, 80-100 lbs. We wrap, we use wind blocks, we ventilate to reduce moisture in the hive, but still, we are faced each spring with dead hives. My friend lost over 60% of his hives, been keeping bees for over 35 years. It just doesn’t make sense. As beekeepers we search our minds, questioning our methods, even though we know we are doing everything we can to keep our bees alive.

I look back over notes I have made, wondering if the answers lie in the pages of tasks completed last year, but nothing stands out. I sat with the bees yesterday, listening to the sweet hum as they busily gather the nectar and pollen that is coming from the budding willows, sugar maples and cowslip. I can’t help but think while I search for answers, they carry on, as if nothing has been lost, each day a new opportunity to build up their stores, feed their brood, and carry on. I don’t know where they find such resilience, but a good reminder to me to find the same opportunities.

Several hives that did make it are strong, having 5-8 frames of bees each. Many have 4-5 frames of brood. All good signs. I will focus on building up these hives, assess again in a few weeks.

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