Sunday, March 10, 2013
Pandora's Box Died!
For the past several years now, there has been this one hive in my yard that would not die! They had all the hardiness traits that bee breeders look for with the exception of their mean temperament. There were some years where I didn't feed them at all before winter and they survived all on their own. But I'd noticed their guard bees would forgo the usual buzz warning other hives typically give, and move right on to stinging. So part of me is sad they're gone, but the other half is glad so I can finally setup the area to have hives there.
On one occasion I recall standing between the hive and our raspberry patch and witnessing a guard bee fly right at me as I knelt to pick some raspberries; thankfully a leaf to the plant was in the way and the bee started attacking it instead of me! Yikes! On another occasion I had a friend over who was interested in becoming a beekeeper. So we opened two hives, and the first I don't think I needed to smoke at all. They were calm and docile. Pandora's box on the other hand was up in arms the moment I lifted the lid. In recent years the hive had cooled down a bit, and I wasn't getting as many randoms tings (which at its worse was 4 for the whole year), and they'd become more tolerable. But bees really aren't supposed to bee that in your face.
lumberjack's crosscut saw. The wax turns soft and gummy, holding everything together. I had attempted to do it one year, and I'd never seen them so angry. They don't like it when you tear apart the nursery.
When I went into the hive, I discovered they were honey bound which explains why I only harvested 18 jars last year, whereas 60+ had been the norm in previous years. They must have hated the plastic frames in their supers that much. They also had two frames devoted to drone production which was a bit much. Drones take up the attention of about three nurse bees, which is a drain on the hive overall.
Note the queen here in the middle. It's a real shame this hive failed. We'd caught the swarm last spring as just a hand full of bees. Most of the swarm had died to cold weather before we were called about getting it. This queen went on to rebound and produced an amazing hive. I'd never seen such a small amount of bees turn into such a strong hive in one year.