Each weekend, I like to perform a little cursory inspection of the B-Haven Apiary.
Keep an eye on what’s going on. On Saturday, October 27, I noticed that there was no activity in front of the swarm hive.
If you will recall, B-Haven Apiary currently consists of 5 hives and a Nucleus. Four of the hives were started from bee packages and the remaining hive was started from a friendly swarm. The Nucleus was started from a bee package.
So I opened it up and low and behold, the hive was dead. Two supers full of honey comb and bee bread and no queen bee and no workers. There was about a half a frame of dead brood. I suspect that the brood died because of a lack of attention. In other words, the nursery workers died off and the brood soon followed. In addition, the queen attendant workers also died off, so the queen soon followed.
The natural question is: why did the workers die off? Worker bees naturally die off in the Autumn when the hive is slowing down, preparing for the Winter layoff. Quite simply, because there is very little nectar to collect, there is no need for a hive to support field workers. So the hive stops producing new filed workers and the old ones naturally die off.
So the other 4 hives and Nucleus are doing very well. The hives are full of bees and field workers are constantly bringing in what pollen and nectar they can find. We do seem to be in the middle of a pollen bloom right now.
So why did the swarm hive do so poorly? I think that the answer is obvious. The swarm hive was started from an unknown queen – a wild queen. And we all know how crazy wild females are. Swarm queens are hit and miss. The new queen might have not have had a good mating.
The other hives were started from queen packages that were purchased from a well established source Honey Bee Genetics. This outfit guarantees their queens and will replace them (free of charge) if they fail.
So the bad news is that one of the hives has died. But the good news is that we now have bee bread! I was able to harvest about 2 gallons of honeycomb and over 2 gallons of bee bread