We robbed honey last month, and we had five relatively healthy hives. We knew three of them were rather weak, so we didn't rob from them. But we inspected them all, and they seemed fine. The food boxes were filled and we saw no cause for alarm. Just the month before the Dept. of Ag. guy came out and did a thorough hive inspection - everything was fine.
Imagine our surprise and sadness when we went into the apiary to winterize our five hives and found that two of them had died. Dead. No sign of life, other than the honey robbers. We are really in shock and disappointed. I just can't imagine what happened.
Given the apparent short period of time it took for this to occur, Colony Collapse Disorder does pop into our minds. I guess we'll call the Dept. of Ag. this week and let them know what happened. If it is CCD, I suppose the Dept. of Ag. are the people to keep track of it.
We also found mites on a few of the bees in the remaining 3 colonies. Not many - but enough for us to start treating them with Apistan. Additionally we saw little tiny black spots on the porch of each - this is sometimes a tell-tale sign of a type of dysentery that bees can get - and it can be fatal. So we also added Fumagil to their sugar water.
Each of them is being fed now. We put a gallon of 50/50 sugar water in each hive. When it gets colder, we'll up the percentage of cane sugar.
It really breaks my heart that we've lost half our hives this year. Poor little bees. They work their little tails off and every time they turn around something is trying to kill them. We are hoping that next year we can capture a couple of swarms and get the apiary buzzing again with more hives.
I can not describe the joy these girls can bring into your life. Just learning about their fascinating lives is amazing. Watching them and getting to know them is rewarded with entertainment and awe. And I can't even describe the taste of honey taken from your own hives.
It's our first year with bees. We've certainly had our ups and downs. But I wouldn't trade having our hives for anything. And I hope that maybe one or two of you reading this will consider getting hives of your own. There is nothing on earth like it!