Monday, July 4, 2011

GIVING UP ON BEEKEEPING...

At least I feel that way right at this moment. I love the bees, love watching them, learning from them, having them in the backyard but... there is a reason more men than women are beekeepers. Now I'm not trying to offend all the feminists out there but seriously, beekeeping takes some strength and it takes strength that I don't have.

Initially when I decided to take up this hobby my hubby was adamant he would not be involved. He isn't afraid of bees but he wasn't that intrigued by them the way I am. He respects all things "natural" and he also thinks they should be left alone. I on the other hand like learning about everything and this was one of those moments but sometimes I think I want to learn about things too much and I dive right in.

As of right now I am unable to move hive bodies around without my husbands assistance and it doesn't help matters that he has a bad lower back. While my hubby graciously helps me out even though this was never his "thing" I find that I'm also struggling to get those darn frames out. Me + propolis = disaster. I even purchased a frame gripper thinking that would make it easier and that didn't work. I pull, pry, scrape, dig and those suckers won't come loose.

Aside from the weight of the hive I have two other problems.

#1 I hate killing things. The other day I opened the new hive and went to pull a frame out and it was stuck in place so I wiggled, pulled, wiggled, pulled some more and finally the darn thing came loose. While it came loose it also pulled up a mess of beeswax. I noticed a large chunk was at the bottom on top of the other hive body so I decided to pull the hive bodies apart to clean things up. What I found was a disaster. The bees in the new hive don't want to draw out the 4 outer frames for some reason, they only drew out the 4 inner frames and the queen laid a mass of brood between the hive bodies. This was a new experience for me. The first hive went according to plan (for the most part) but this hive is acting weird. Not only does the queen not want to utilize the frame space for laying there are a massive amount of bees. Makes me wonder where the heck she laid the brood for the new bees to emerge??? So, as you can imagine, when I cleaned things up I had to kill a mess of bees. This is what one chunk looked like. (see below). 24 hours later the bees with their heads poking out were still alive. I felt terrible.



#2 I have no sense of what is normal and not normal with my hives. My bees swarmed again today but I left shortly after so I don't know if they returned a 2nd time. I was curious to see how many bees were left behind or if they had returned so when I got home I opened the hive. The top box seemed pretty empty so I slid it off and what do I do??? Kill the new queen. She wasn't even born yet. Her cell was attached between two frames and I know for certain it was a queen cell and her body was exposed. Of course my little bees rushed to protect her but I don't think they will repair her queen cell in time. I suck at this, I seriously do! On top of that I still can't tell if the swarm returned or not. It looks like the same amount of bees I had last time I checked. To add insult to injury I discovered that hive #2 has a horrendous mite problem. How do I know? The mites were in the mass of brood + wax I scraped off (pictures later). We were told in class if we could "see" mites then we had a serious problem. I see them.

So, maybe I'm overreacting to this beekeeping thing. Maybe everyone feels all this anxiety when they have their first hives. I'm not sure. All I know is right now I think I could write the "how to be a crappy beekeeper" book because I have all the steps down perfectly. If I could only keep bees without managing them, just let them do their thing, but... I have to worry about Nosema, Tracheal Mites, AFB, Hive Beetle, Mites, etc... I don't even want to think about the swarming issue right now.