By the time the bees were settled in their new home, it was Memorial day weekend. All seemed well, so I left the bees to themselves during this busy time. I did not have plans to be away for the weekend, but others did which added to my workload somewhat (taking care of my daughter's critters while she was gone), and there was some catching up here before the middle of the following week when I knew I would be away a lot.
Wednesday morning was finally warmer and almost sunny. My first thought was to check the bees, but my sister had an appointment in Tulsa that morning so I drover her. What I found on Thursday, when I opened the hive to try and locate the queen, was devastating to me. There were hardly any live bees, lots of dead bees and the brood comb, which should have supplied replacements, was completely taken over by some type of maggots. All the brood was dead, most of the adult bees were dead and the rest, including the queen, were dying.
Devastation, sadness and discouragement were the order of the day (and for several days to come). It is hard to imagine being so broken up over a bunch of insects, but I am still sad when I think of it. Life goes on, but for several days I replayed in my mind the procedures of capturing the bees, searching for anything I might have done differently that could have had a better result. There may have been something, but I was unable to find it in my mind or in my reference books. It seems that I handled it correctly, based on my personal experience and the information I had available (though under other circumstances, I would have chosen to do it a bit later in the season).
Sometimes a captured colony just doesn't survive, whether something is done a little wrong, the colony just isn't strong enough for the stress, or for any of countless reasons that we may not even understand. Of course, on the flip side of that coin, sometimes they do survive and thrive. It is this thought that will not let me give up. The number of honeybees pollinating flowers here and the lack of local bee keepers, tells me that there is a bee tree nearby. You can bet I will be looking for it. If I don't find the bee tree, early spring will find me looking for bees to purchase.
Working with bees again, even for such a short time, reminded me how much I have missed it the past several years. Beekeeping is a part of me that I lost but certainly intend to have back. As an added bonus, it is a SWEET addition to the quest for self-sufficiency here at TwoFarmsOne.