Bad news about the Bees and a Chance to Vote.

We have snow on the ground. Not much.mia-010

Almost everyone likes to play in the snow, even if you do not have hands for snow balls.mia-015

Mama continues to get larger and I can literally see her lambs doing flip flops inside her. mia-018

Some of us have no interest in playing in the snow though.mia-023

We will look at the devastation that is the remains of my bee hives shortly but first here is a lovely surprise. I made the finals in the writing contest over where Nancy writes at Spirit Lights the Way.  So if you have a moment, do pop over and vote for your favourite entry. The competition is all about writing spaces and there are some wonderful short essays and poems.


The Shush Sisters were not allowed to come out and play in the snow, maybe today will be warmer. They used their entire repertoire of honks and squeaks and oinks to try and convince me to let them out but no-one one would wear a jacket so in they stayed. mia-025

Snow. And now to the bees. I was encouraged by one of my bee mentors to have a quick peek in the hive and I found piles of honey but no bees, so I looked further down. hive-gone-bad-001

Further down I  found this. All the bees are dead. They have been dead for quite some time.hive-gone-bad-003

The comb is black and in some places it has been eaten away. hive-gone-bad-006

Good morning. No life in the hives at all.  I have seen this kind of thing on a smaller scale from a moth infestation. But it is winter and both hives have been wiped out. There are no webs or cocoons or larvae. Very sad. I shall research this today. We need to work out what killed them, how to avoid this happening again, what to do with the supers full of beautiful clean honey left behind by my beautiful bees and how to prepare these dirty supers for a new beginning this coming spring or do I burn them and give up. There is a lot of honey sitting out there now. I don’t want to give up on having bees. Grim isn’t it.

Well, lets all take a big breath and get on with today.  Straight after the milking I am off to visit Nancy to read all the writing desk entries and vote, then you and I better get our bee books out.

Look for loveliness today.  I am off into the snow to milk the cow and check on all the healthy happy animals waiting in the barn.  No use moping. Though I feel like it.


90 Comments on “Bad news about the Bees and a Chance to Vote.

  1. Looks like Mama’s got 4 in there, yet again… How’s Mia faring this time?
    So sad about the bees…Is there anyone you can talk to at the County Extension? Maybe they keep records, to track issues like this?
    Wishing you a better day today, C.

    • Mia is doing OK. Though yesterday I heard her groan, which is not nice to hear at this stage. I am watching her very carefully as you can imagine. c

    • Thank you carrie, i shall pop over and see. The trouble with other insects (I think) is that all their natural prey is wiped out by the sprays and GM crops, so the bees are very vulnerable. I am trying to be organic but it is hard out here. I shall check out this site.. c

  2. good morning Celi sorry about your bees there is some good to any thing; there may be some thing that is going on like the GMOs that is planted all around you that are proven to be not bee friendly?

    • The crops are most definitely at the root of the problem, but I cannot give up yet, other people have bees on the edge of the fields, so there is no reason why I can’t find a way to do the same.. c

    • Bad luck Michelle, I have had some wonderful harvests, and it sells so well too, so I am not quite ready to give up but first I need to know how to avoid this happening again.. c

  3. So sorry about your bees. I know we have to get used to loosing beasties – big or small – but to loose the whole population must be devastating. Good luck with your research.

  4. sorry about the bees, but the contest cracked me up. I read through the entries wondering if I would recognize which one was you. uh yeah. 🙂 You’re winning so far!

    • Hey Melissa, thank you for voting, I did not want to influence you!! I am going to pop over right now and cast my vote too! c

  5. I am so sorry about your bees. It is heart breaking when you have loved and cared for them. Last year in the UK there were masses of bees that died, Some put it down to insecticides used in gardens whilst others said it was a disease. Our friend Dave Wright used to be the second biggest breeder in the UK…all his bees died. I would ask him for information but he moves around a lot and I do not know where he is.
    Start again…but I think the hives would need a really good clean and disinfect just in case…. It is so disheartening when something like that happens

    • Thank you and I will start again in fact I need to order my new bees pretty smartly.. I may lose the organic label though as I will have to fumigate the supers. but if I have to burn them then we are pretty much finished. The supers are expensive.. it took me years to collect all these hives.. ah well..c

  6. Celi, I’m sorry about your bees. My (new) hive also did not make it and I have no idea why as the comb they did build looks healthy (and empty). I “pampered” them all summer, shutting them in the hive on days when surrounding farm fields would be worked, providing sugar syrup, etc but my efforts were in vain. I have bees ordered for April delivery and will try again, but I wonder if it’s possible to keep bees successfully surrounded by the farm fields. Such a waste and I’m appalled at the downward spiral this is giving beekeeping.
    Jan in SE Illinois

    • Did they die in the winter? How miserable. This has been a tough winter with all the temperature fluctuations. I have had better luck when it goes into deep cold and stays there.. But you are right we need to keep trying, we cannot give up on the bees.. c

      • I’m not sure exactly when as I didn’t want to open the hive when the cold first came. But in late fall, they quit laying brood, the honey disappeared almost overnight,and from there it was death by attrition. No appearance of invasive species or disease. Like you, I’m not sure how to deal with the hive in preparation for this spring. Apparently beekeeping has a steep learning curve :-(.

        • well we are both on that curve, so do keep in touch. evidently so far we are to scrape and clean the frames.. then let them sit in the cold, sun and air.. and reassemble i guess when it is time for the new arrivals.. fingers crossed. let me know how you go.. we have some work ahead of us.. c

  7. That’s too bad about the bees . . . when I saw the title of this post, I wondered whether they all froze to death. I hope you figure out what went wrong so you can harvest some of the honey and find a solution for next year.

    Best of luck in the contest. Hope a few of your faithful fans, followers, and friends will stop by, read the submissions, and vote. 😀

  8. So sad about your bees. I just finished a beekeeping class and plan to start my first hives in the spring. I understand winters are tough and these things happen to the best of beekeepers. Very disheartening, but I’m sure you’ll gain valuable insight that will help you and your bees weather through the winter next year. Do share, I’ll look forward to learning as well.

      • Not that I can pin down from my notes. American Foul Brood could be a possibility. Consider contacting your local apiary inspector or a local beekeeping assoc. Local bee keepers are very knowledgeable and love to help. The USDA in Beltsville MD also has a bee research division where you can send bee samples for them to diagnose. They even have a diagnosis document online: I hope that helps. Best of luck restoring your hives.

        • Thank you, good info, there is no smell at all so we can rule out foul brood with some relief.. This site looks good, i shall pop over.. thank you.. c

  9. Very sorry to hear about your bees. A heartbreaking disappointment. I’m off to visit Nancy, and vote for you. Stay warm, c.

  10. So sorry about your bees C. All loss is tough to swallow.

    Congrats on your story though. I will most certainly vote. 🙂

  11. Cecilia,
    Here’s the link we use all the time and have ordered our supplies from them for years. They have a wonderful newsletter I get each month and it’s so educational. It’s and another source we use is our county extension service for quick help.
    I would take that good honey off immediately and put it in jars and seal it (heat the lids in boiling water and put on the jars immediately). It will keep forever and if it starts to crystallize all you do is heat it a little. We get $14 a quart for our honey with comb and $25 a quart if it’s strained. Email me if you have any questions. We’ve had bees for 30+ years.

  12. Sorry about the bees C — If I remember anything from when I helped my dad keep bees, I wil certainly let you know — I think we did have to burn the frames but not the supers at one time — have to think on it so more — hope the forums can help you

  13. Oh, no. I’m so sorry about your bees, c. I know nothing about bees, but quite a lot about keeping warm. Maybe something crept in to their warm home and decided it wasn’t big enough for all of them?

  14. Oh dear. Too bad about the bees…….are you sure they’ve all expired? Around here, insects go into a state of ‘suspended animation/hibernation-like’ when it freezes in the wintertime. Often when I bring in firewood and there’s a ‘dead’ mosquito or fly or beetle on it, they come back to life when they heat up inside the house. I hope you figure this out….bee colony collapse is a real problem.

  15. Voted yesterday. So sad about the Bees, is there no way you can erect some sort of protective structure above and around one side giving the bees some protection from weather both summer and winter and chemicals from crops? I really hope this is not a disease that can’t be rectified so that you can carry on. Laura

  16. Celi, so sad about the bees. I hope you find out what happened. Love the pictures 🙂 the shush sisters are particularly adorable.

  17. Darnit! I was hoping that they had just been extra sleepy because of all of the cold weather you’ve had. 😦 I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t the soy fields next to you…

    Congratulations on the writing contest though! I can’t wait to pop over and see what’s what. Have a lovely day, I look forward to seeing how “we” are going to fix the bee issue. 🙂

  18. My response disappeared! I am mourning for you and the bees, and hope you can find a reason/solution.

    My vote for you was made yesterday. I wish I could vote twice!

  19. So sorry about your bees, Celi. I do have a bee book, which I will consult this afternoon. It is from the 17th century however! Nevertheless–there might be some little tidbit of use in there.

  20. What is the title of your essay in the contest; I wondered why Mama was losing her Scarlett O’Hara waist, and must have missed that she was enceinte(sP); when it came to the bees, a silence filled me, a reference for life, and a sadness to see all those tiny charred looking bodies; what a tragedy; bees are in trouble!

    • The title of my entry is the mists of writing, but do read the others there are some very good entries! And it was awfully sad finding all the bees dead, such a shame, they were such strong little hives too.. c

  21. “To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
    One clover, and a bee,
    And revery.
    The revery alone will do,
    If bees are few.”
    ― Emily Dickinson

    • Alice how clever of you, this looks like it should be an embroidery hanging on the wall , what a wonderful gift!.. c

  22. Very sad about the bees, but at least you know now. Accept the gift of the honey, and the bees’ legacy… then make a new start. The writing desk stories are wonderful… I voted, of course 🙂

    • I will let them out in it tomorrow!! but they will be moaning their arses off within minutes, trying to lift the gates off their hinges so they can get back into the barn! !

  23. It didn’t sound good the other day wen you mentioned the hives were silent but I did hold out hope. Sorry, Celi, but I hope you do find the cause. Maybe one of your readers has an idea or some practical experience that may help. I certainly hope so.
    We, too, have snow on the ground and I actually got out the blower, clearing about half the block’s snow. I chuckled at the thought of the Shush Sister wearing coats so that they could play in the snow.
    Good luck in the contest, though I doubt you’ll need it. I voted for you and I’ve had quite a successful voting record of late. Just saying … 😉

    • i am so glad you got that blower out for some exercise.. phew! I was thinking maybe we were in for a No Blower winter!.. laugh!! c

  24. Oh Celi, what a blow about the bees.. hope it isn’t part of the worldwide decline in bee populations… it would begin to feel like Armageddon… all the girls look good though, won’t the shush sisters wear their coast because they’re not elegant enough?

  25. my neighbor,a beekeeper in west virginia, builds big fire and heats tub of water outside
    puts the black frames in boiling water to kill any bee germs, mites ect
    then will store the honey for human use, do not give to other bees and boil those frames, hive bodies
    everything that could be contaminated with verrona[spelling] mites

    then he puts hives/frames in big garbage bags with some sort of mite killing crystals for a period of time

    i know, its a chemical, but sometimes have to use them
    the alternitive, if mites,is to burn the hive to prevent spread

    • would mites wipe out two hives like that? so fast. the tub of boiling water would be a good idea, i have frozen frames and whole supers in the past too.. thanks for the advice, always appreciated.. and welcome ronald c

      • bees bump into infected bees when forageing
        that 1 way mites spread

        neighbor has buckfest brand/breed of honeybees
        say they more resistant to mites

  26. Voting done: seem to have joined an awful lot of others in ticking a certain number: may they continue to increase 🙂 ! The bees: if at once you don’t succeed . . . . am certain you want to start again!

  27. So sorry about the bees. We have had our ups and downs, and now do not medicate the hive anymore as I think it is worse than not. You do NOt have to destroy the frames and supers. You have to scrape them out very carefully and treat them with a chlorox solution. And let them get the sun and air. For a number of years we only used a frame with about 3″ of foundation right at the top of the frame and the bees did their own thing. They were Russians and Carneolans and they hated the foundation all the way down! You never know… :*(

    • I like the idea of the 3″ foundation. And thank you, this is what I shall do.. scrape. bleach and air. Thank you. I think it was this wild winter and I did not put in extra feed early enough. This is what my research is telling me. Miserable.. c

  28. I’m so sad about the bees! It happened to a friend of mine who has a city hive, and her hive man just brought another, which is now thriving. I signed a global petition yesterday to beg European leaders to ban the pesticides that are hurting bees.
    On a happier note, congratulations on making the finals, and may your writing thrive and find success.

    • I am working hard at it, and waiting to hear about when you will be published too.. it must be imminent!! c

  29. Oh my, Celi. I am very sorry. I like your choice of word…grim, it is! I, like everyone else, will be interested to learn what you discover through your research, and hope you find it to be an anomaly unlikely to reoccur. It’s very sad to see the hives so cold and desolate. It’s much more cheerful to spend some time over at Spirit Lights the Way. I’ll head on over. oxo

  30. Sorry to hear about the bees. After reading this today I went out and checked my two hives. It was too cold to inspect (not that I do that much anyway 😉 but saw one brave girl at the door looking lively, and peeked in the observation window of the other and saw a few (moving!). We’ve had a very wet winter, with some icy cold spells – the wet is harder on them, I think, and the outside of the hives are all sooty with mold. Hopefully they’ll make it through. I don’t take their honey, so they should have plenty of healthy food, too. (fingers crossed) I think the artificial food (sugar syrup) is part of why CCD has become so prevalent – it leaves them weakened (even if it’s organic/non-GMO sugar) and makes it harder for them to survive the winter. Hope you can get a new hive going this spring.

    • I am so glad your bees are well and yes I agree about the sugar, but I think mine starved so i will have to research a better feed source.. if you get any ideas let me know!! c

  31. very sad that your bees have all died. We thought about having a hive but with chickens, pea hen and doves I think that will be enough for now. The Pea Hen was a mistake for a chick!

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