Reverie - n. a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a daydream or fantasy; a visionary or impractical idea

"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.

The revery alone will do
If bees are few." - Emily Dickinson

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Death in the Afternoon

The green hive on the right was the star this year, at one point supporting THREE active honey supers.  And now it is dead. 
The sunny scene and busy bees distracted me from noticing what was really going on.  See those emerging bees?  They are all dead.  And the worst part?  Every single capped brood cell in this photo contains a dead bee.  This is a hive with no future.

There is a window during the late summer season when mite populations can explode in the hive.  I was busy with other events in my life and didn't take care of the bees as I should, and they paid the price for my negligence.  Lesson learned the hard way.

These are bees I pulled from brood cells for closer inspection.  The culprit is Deformed Wing Virus, a disease transmitted by Varroa mites.

Here is a young bee exhibiting the classic symptoms of the disease - distorted, twisted wings.  Compare them to the bee on the left.

What a sad realization.  Do you see the queen?  She is presiding over a hive with a death sentence.  At this time of year, the bees developing within brood cells are the ones that will see the hive through the winter. There is no new generation of bees to sustain this colony.  

To make matters worse, this was also the time of year that yellowjackets were at their most vicious, tearing into colonies and killing bees. A weakened hive struggling with disease is an easy mark.
Once I determined that this hive would not survive, I took off the honey super that was supposed to be their reserve for the winter and reduced the colony down to only two brood boxes. 

A few days later I opened the hive to silence.  Thousands of bees gone in a matter of days, and frame after frame of dead capped brood. Not a single bee, except this one. The queen was the sole survivor!  With no attendants, she was struggling to stay alive. 



  1. Hi!

    I just found your blog today and just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying it greatly! I find beekeeping really interesting. I'm sorry for your dead bees.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately dead bees are part of the experience sometimes, but I have high hopes for this year!

  3. Oh man. That is heartbreaking. We had seen mites in our hives last year and treated with mite strips. Mites are nasty nasty critters. Better luck this year!!