Friday, February 3, 2012

Home, Sweet Home

The honeybees died.  All of them.  We don't know what the problem was, perhaps the cold we had in November.  It was about that time that activity in the hive stopped.  Postmortem for the bees and cleaning my/sister's hive is on the list of Things I get to do today.  To be quite truthful, I've been putting it off.

But the sun was eager to get up this morning--no sense of dread on her part--to shine over the whole planet with its calm and wild, its love and fear, its life and death.  So I'm on with this task.

We opened the hive, carefully removing the rain roof, the lid, and prying the top bars loose, one or two or three at a time.  Each bar held an exquisite comb, completely empty save an inch or so wide strip of wax-capped honey at the top next to the bar.  We saved all the comb on the bars to show and discuss with our honeybee mentor, looking for clues, wanting to make it better next time.

Clean hive, airing in the sun, top bar with honey added

A small handful of dead bees in a corner were scooped out and buried.  All signs of mold were washed out, and then the hive was left open to air and dry under the blessing of a radiantly blue sky and an embracing sun.

Within half an hour two or three honeybees found the open hive and came to lick off honey that we could not see.  They went home and told their colony friends.  News travels through antennae and waggle dances in the bee world, and this was the sweetest of messages.

You can see shiny honey in the dark cells.  At the top, the white area is
wax-capped, finished honey.

We brought out a bar with generous honey along the top as well as open cells of partially completed honey three or four inches down the comb. Now there was real action.

The girls are now opening the wax-capped honey.  You can see shards of wax on the floor of the hive as well
as bits of white wax in the dark cells.  All the "wet" honey in the lower cells has already been licked out.
 Very Busy Bees.
And that's the good news, the best of news:  though a colony of bees did not survive to carry on the hive, their labor is now providing magnificent food for bees from other colonies in the neighborhood at a time when there is very little to be found.  When these gals get ready to swarm, they will certainly know where a good home, sweet home is waiting.  We'll keep you posted.


  1. Very interesting. So this was the honey comb from the old bees?

    1. That's right. The previous colony made this before they died.