adventures in beekeeping: a sad spring

It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on the bees. When last we checked in, we sadly discovered that one hive had starved to death. Now, as things have finally started thawing out in our little hamlet near the Hudson River, our worst fears of been realized. None of our hives survived the winter! The remaining two hives had plenty of honey, but they obviously couldn’t get to it. They most likely were huddled together for warmth, unable to dig into their reserve stock in the layer above. It’s so sad, especially now as the first bulbs we planted are starting to sprout. One theory on our failure is that we had tried to start our hives with Italian bees (the American honeybee no longer exists — all honeybees here are now bred from foreign lines). We have heard they are not very hearty for cold climates. Perhaps next year we’ll try Russian bees? — Angela M.

From our partners
Caitlin B

Oh no! That’s awful news. I’m so sorry. This was one of my favorite features on shelterrific – the bees will be missed!

chad

ill have to try it again next year :(

Mary T

Is it too late to get more for this year? I never thought I’d be so sad about bees.

Actually, there’s no such thing as an American honeybee; they are not native to this continent at all. However, when Europeans came to the Americas, they brought bees with them, and those bees swarmed and spread across the country (the Americans called them “white man’s flies”). Those wild hives are mostly gone now, because of disease.

There are some ways to help your bees get through the winter, including insulating the hive, and feeding. But if they get separated from their food or just don’t have enough food to get through the winter, they will die off. I’m so sorry you lost all your hives. It’s a rough learning process.

Oh, that’s so sad! One of my Aussie writer friends Anne Gracie keeps bees and is positively obsessed by them (she also has many hilarious tales of keeping bees in the city). Better luck next year.

Michelle

that is sad. :( good luck next year!

We have a couple of bee keepers on my street here in Cambridge.
They have been doing it for years. Let me know if you want their info
maybe they could let you in on their secrets!

Sorry to hear about your bees. Are you getting more? 2 of our colonies died over the winter, but a third survived and is thriving! Our replacement bees arrived a couple weeks ago and we now have 4 hives now…all doing well so far. We have carniolans, supposedly winter hardy. Am getting our kids more involved this year too…got extra tyvek bee suits for friends and family.

btw…here is a fascinating article about bees that was in the NYTimes last week:
http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/guest-column-lets-hear-it-for-the-bees/

K.H.

Sooo sad to hear about your bees!! I always give my support to local beekeepers rather than the commercial brands. Taste is superior and the health benefits are phenomenal. I wish you good fortune with your new bees and look forward to more updates.

The first bees (hive) were probably diseased and that’s why they didn’t make honey and why they died. Please contact your state ag dept, GOOGLE for bee keepers’ groups, etc. before you waste any more time/money/effort on this hobby – they will be able to give you an enormous amount of help and advice! Good Luck!

We have a couple of bee keepers on my street here in Cambridge.
They have been doing it for years. Let me know if you want their info
maybe they could let you in on their secrets!