April 15, 2013

Splitsville for the Little Top Bar Hive

Marty came over early Tuesday morning, and we chatted briefly about Winter losses. Last Winter he lost 18 hives, due to neonicotinoids he speculated. The hives were at a farm up in Brighton, and he thinks a nearby field of corn was grown from treated seed. Such plants produce tainted pollen and, while the adult bees aren't killed, it taints their fat stores. The brood food they produce, and the stored pollen these bees feed the next generation, kills the larvae. Brood-rearing slowed in the Fall, as is typical, but he went into Winter with 19 strong colonies. Then when Winter came to a close, and the so-very-important next round of brood, the round of brood that raises your Spring bees, was being reared, it failed.

This Winter he lost fewer hives, only 6, but it's been a brutal season on beekeepers everywhere. I was so proud to have pulled two-out-of-two colonies, handicapped colonies, through. Of course, it wasn't all me, these are good bees, without a doubt Survivor stock. We hope Marty can, at minimum, regrow his colony count. Our little hive is just bursting with bees including lots of drones, and if he makes splits from the hive, it'll nip that swarm urge right in the bud. I really hope he raises queens from our little hive. They'd be real Rocky Mountain Reinas.

Record lows, both High and Low. Without the protection of the greenhouse, I'm worried about the TBH.

We also gave him the Hardison Hive we built but never stocked. He may retrofit it for us, with a window, and move our bees into it. So when we're ready to get back into beekeeping, we'll get our bees back in an observation Hardison Hive. How cool is that?

I'm not sure when we'll be actively keeping honeybees again. First, I'm exploring Venom Immuno­therapy (or VIT). It's not cheap, and I have a High-Deductible health insurance plan: $5,000. Then there's the EpiPens I must always carry (almost $300 a pair) and a "sting-proof" bee suit at $260 to consider. And lastly, we need to find an outyard. Even with the pens and the suit, it's not wise to have bees in The Backyard anymore. Every time I want to peek at the mason bees or just collect flowers for a vase, I'd have to suit up.

Hopefully, we can get this all figured out quickly. Meanwhile, read my Anaphylaxis Due to Bee Sting story, and if you have an anaphylaxis story to share, please do. I'd love to learn how others have managed.
Honey Bee Winter Loss Survey Results to Date: Losses of 40 to 50%, Twice the Average in 2011


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