Sunday, March 21, 2010

Robbers in the Hive

Do you remember my post from last spring about bees and beekeeping? If not here is the link

http://germandolls.blogspot.com/2009/05/bees-in-our-backyard.html



I just thought I'd give you an update on our bee hive. Well, the news is not good. We had such a cold winter here that all the bees died. My husband checked on them a couple months back. He looked through the little window, and all he could see was piles of dead bees. We are not sure if the bees death was due to the nature of the hive (top bar hive). Normally this type of hive is used in Africa and warmer countries. Did we doom our poor bees by making them move into a house that was not well suited to this climate? I feel so bad for them.

Since we were on spring break last week, and it finally warmed up here, we did some gardening. I walked over to our hive, and found to my surprise that lots of bees going in and out. I asked my husband whether he was sure the bees were all dead. I was kind of hopeful he had been wrong...Well, it turns out that these were robber bees stealing our bees' honey.

So we quickly sprang into action and opened the hive to harvest the remaining honey. I did not take any pictures, because I found it too depressing. Also, we had to act fast to rescue what was left of our honey.

I spent most of last week processing the honey and beeswax. In the process I learned that the brood chambers did not contain all that much wax. When melting the brown sheets in a pot, I ended up with a thick glob full of dead bees and debris. Not so fun. On top of it I managed to get stung by one of the robbers who had made it into our house and attacked me as I was breaking the comb into pieces. Ouch! My finger is totally swollen today.

After all this work, I am left with two quarts of very delicious honey and 1.5 pounds of stunningly beautiful yellow beeswax. I made some granola with the honey. Now I need to go to the library and find some books on candle making...

6 comments:

Mommy of Monkeyshines said...

I am sorry to hear about your bees :( I have wanted to get into bee keeping for a few years now. I love stopping by for a visit!!

Lala's Pequenos said...

My good friend just got her new bees yesterday as her bees died with this very cold winter. She'll be putting them in the hive today! Best of luck with the candles.
-Alessandra

germandolls said...

Anyone here know what to do about my bee sting? It really hurts and my finger is totally swollen now. I hope this doesn't mean I am getting allergic to them....Ouch!
Mommy of Monkeyshine you may stop by any time! =)

FairiesNest said...

I've always heard baking soda is good for a sting but that may be for immediate use only. I'd probably try antihistamines now. We're planning on getting bees next Spring and just finished our beginning bee keeping class. Feel better soon!

LMG said...

My mother made a paste out of baking soda and vinegar and then put it on the sting and let it dry/harden. I don't really know if it worked, or I was just happy to wash off the stinky crust.

germandolls said...

Thanks for the tips! I will definitely keep that in mind for the next time...The swelling finally went down. Hopefully I can sew again this week...