Monday, May 23, 2011

Barn Hop #14

Welcome to the Monday Homestead Barn Hop! As hostesses, we look forward to cultivating the homestead community with fellow bloggers who love homesteading and everything related!

and Me!

And we're so blessed to see this community growing! Thank you to everyone who has participated in the past and to those who are doing so today. I only wish I could read and comment on every single post that was linked up!

On Saturday I shared that it had been a really hard homesteading week. First, I had a meat chick doing poorly to the point that it had to be put down. It's one thing to kill a full grown meat bird; it's another to kill a three week old chick. My husband was good to do the job for us as no one else could bear to do so. And it wasn't easy for him either. It just didn't seem right, but it had to be done. 

To make matters worse, it seemed like more of the chicks were having leg issues and that they were going to start going down hill fast. These are Freedom Rangers and I purposefully chose these in order to avoid some of the issues that come with Cornish Cross. I began to think about what I was going on or what I was doing wrong and it finally occurred to me that the small waterers I was using and having to constantly refill weren't allowing them to get enough water. 

I had purchased some chicken nipples earlier, but not installed them so I finally did so and overnight they figured out how to drink from these. Within hours I noticed a difference. Then a friend reminded me that they might eat too much if you allow them to do so; and their crops were very full. Now that they're a bit more feathered out, I'm going to open the door to the run for them if the weather is warm enough tomorrow and allow them to  start foraging a bit although they're isn't much right up by the coop. Hopefully, they'll "harden off" (a bit like new plants), feather out more, and be ready to forage out in the yard soon (in a tractor). So at least this is looking up a bit.

However... Friday, I went to check on my bees after nearly a week of cold and rain. And I noticed a pile of dead bees on the ground outside the hive; and more on the landing board. And ants, flies, and other things on the hive. Not good. 

Although I wasn't suited up, I decided to take off the lid. No bees. No sound. Silence. Very odd. I took off the inner cover. Nothing. My heart was sinking by this point. I took off the new super and frames I had added so as to see down into the bottom super. A few dead bees. I pulled up a frame... with dead bees... and looked down inside, only to see... a huge pile of dead bees.

Despite how it looks, the bees you see on the comb are not alive.
In fact, almost none of the bees in these photos are alive.

There were perhaps five or six flying around, but it looked like a massacre took place. I can't tell you how devastated I was. I closed it up and went to tell my husband. Then we went through it all again and concluded... my hive was dead. 

I spent the next few hours reading, making phone calls, and sending emails. I called everyone from friends and seasoned beekeepers to the county extension agency entomologist, an apiculturist at UC Davis, and so on. A friend even called another 
apiculturist in Michigan on my behalf. 

One said I starved them because I quit feeding them. Others thought something toxic killed them. And a couple felt like the cold snap did it. No consensus, but I had to get to the bottom of it or I wouldn't be able to bring in more bees. Which are now sold out. All I could do was think of was that my little "friends" had died, I had maybe done it to them, no honey this year, I spent $$$ money on them, and had waited two years to get them. And now they were gone and I'd have to wait another year. 

Later in the afternoon, I checked the hive again. This time there was a bit more activity, so I went and suited up and checked the hive again. Still really bad, but a few flying around. I took off the extra super that was empty, added a feeder along with some sugar water and closed it up, hoping that there might be enough to save if at all possible, and perhaps I could re-queen.

Sunday afternoon, my beekeeping friend, Lori and I, went into the hive. This this time there were quite a few bees, enough to save perhaps. Unfortunately, there was a lot of dead brood, too. And then... we saw her! 

The queen... ALIVE!! 

I was too excited to even take a photo. We quickly lifted up the bottom super, swept out a LOT of dead bees, placed everything back, fed them again, and closed it up. I'm so encouraged that this hive may actually make it! I'll keep feeding them every 3-4 days and then check some possible drone cells we saw in a couple of weeks. We hesitated to do too much since the hive is so weak at this point. But if I need to, I'll go in sooner and deal with that issue. 

Dead bees after I cleaned out the bottom of the hive.

I hope your week was better? 

Join The Barn Hop!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.

2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!


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