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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lesson #5 Two Hives Are Better Than One

Tonight Greg and I checked cracked open our hives to see how they were doing. We were looking for brood larvae (baby bees) stored nectar and pollen. These are signs your hives are doing well. The good news is one of the hives is doing fantastic. We saw lots of larvae, lots of stored pollen and lots of nectar. Its doing exactly what its supposed to be doing.

The second hive is sucking-big. The number of bees is a lot lower and there is virtually no stored pollen. Worse-no larvae. This most likely means we've lost the queen in that hive and it will need to be replaced. We are still deciding what to do. I can't stop wondering what we did wrong. Did our little queen bee not measure up? Was she released too early and killed by the workers? Did she just decide she didn't like the interior decorating in the hive and take off? Who knows.

We don't have much time to figure out what to do. If you lose the egg-laying queen the hive doesn't have very long before it starts to decline and you can't save it. At this point I am really glad we paid the extra cash to get a second hive. It would have been really hard to have recognized the queen problem without having another healthy hive to compare it to. Its also nice to know that if the second hive isn't savable we won't have a total loss of honey this year.

Early on in the project I claimed ownership of the healthy hive (before it was healthy, I might add for my defense) and teased that I would train them to steal honey from Greg's hive. I shouldn't have run my mouth. Today Greg said he thinks I've coerced his bees into my hive or have found some way to sabotage his hive. I'm not sure he was joking. Is it my fault that my hive provided a more welcoming and nurturing environment than his?

I think the sooner we learn how not to get discouraged and to handle these types of set backs the better. We are probably going to walk around like we've just lost our puppies for the next few days. We were so hoping for a smooth first year and only three weeks in we have our first hurdle to jump.

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