Sadly, our bees didn’t make it. I had been checking on them fairly regularly, and all through the winter, they were going strong. The last bad snowfall we got through, came with strong winds, and the next time I checked – there were no signs of life anymore. No heat signatures, no dead bees outside. Just gone from one week to the next.
I decided to wait until the weather got nicer to make sure though, just in case. But, sure enough, as soon as I opened the hive, I knew they were all dead. No buzzing at all. Just piles of dead bees.
So, what happened?
As far as I can tell, they got wet. I think the wind was so strong, with the snowfall going in just the right direction that it blew in the top entrance and fell in the hive. While the inside of the boxes were dry – meaning there wasn’t a buildup of moister internally (a common killer), there were puddles on the tops of the frames, which leads me to believe it was snowmelt.
In short, it snowed inside the hive, then melted, and they got wet and ultimately froze.
There was a pretty good chance of them dying – I mean, it’s a 50/50 chance in Ontario according to the statistics. Still sad, but what can you do? Try again next year and learn from this one. So, next year, I’m going to protect the top entrance, or cover it entirely. I’m not sure yet. Some people don’t use top entrances, and it looked as if my bees were trying to close the top entrance in the late fall. But, I didn’t want to guess and close it for them, because, well, I’m new, and I figured they knew better than I and would close it if they wanted. Now I wish I had closed it. Live and learn.
So, what now?
Well, I have a ton of honey to get out of the hive – I’m not exactly sure how much, but I bought a 19 L food grade bucket at home depot, and Christina’s not sure it’s large enough… We also borrowed a honey extractor (basically a giant centrifuge) from one of Christina’s friends and hope to put it to good use. I’ll write another post about that.
And I have to start setting up swarm traps to try and catch a new colony this spring. I’ll write a bit about that too. The good news is – we will already have fames and honey ready for them to use this year, which will give them a head start over last year.
So, we’re sad the bees died, but life goes on. Here’s hoping for an even better beekeeping season. My hope is we can catch 2 swarms this year. So, if you see a swarm anywhere – let me know – I’ll come get them. If not, I’ll just hope they come to my backyard like last year.