We Are Not Worthy

March 13, 2007

 You ever think you know how to do something, then you see someone who really knows how to do it, and you realize how little you actually know? So check out this post by “Naturebee” Joe on the Organic Beekeeper’s Yahoo Group about his Spring hive check.

Here’s his report after checking his hives:

Went thru and inspected my colonies this morning. Although I was hit rather hard with many dead outs, I am very happy with the assessments because all dead outs were determined to be death by isolation starvation / nutritional deficit, compounded by the severe 2006 foraging conditions. Only one colony had peculiarities that may be suggestive of TM perhaps contributing along with starvation (a strange freezing on comb, some bees in patrolling mode as if alive in appearance, which reminded me of how some of the newer pesticides are known to affect other insects[…]). It is NOT the numbers of losses, rather the cause of the loss I am most concerned about in order to move forward. Basically, these losses are a management failure by me failing to readjust stores properly to compensate for lack of summer and fall forage in 2006.

Last seasons weather contributed to a severe deficit of the quantity and quality of nutritional stores going into winter. It seems in some starved colonies, the incoming nutrition last season was barley keeping ahead of brood rearing. As goldenrod bloomed, the bees managed to catch up on stores a bit in the bottom deep, but most of the stores in these bottom deeps may have been unripe. This may have contributed to a very rapid consumption of nectar in the bottom deep during fall and early winter, and caused the cluster the need to abandon brood in the bottom deep to move upward more rapidly than would be preferred. Many of these clusters found dead moved into the upper deeps where a frame or two of unripe honey here and there may have been used up quickly and served to isolate the cluster from moving across the frames to fresh stores. If I had gotten in and moved unripe frames to the sides and brought capped frames inward, I would have been fine here also. […] Nothing resembeling the so called CCD disease found in any of my colonies.

90% percent of colonies and new stock being assessed in my assessments (these are colonies under 2 years old) were found starved out due to isolation starvation. Much of the comb I use in my assessment yards is not down to 4.9 yet, so this may be a contributing factor in these kills. This is a good time to finally get these combs culled and sizing correct in the assessment yards and get them into shape also. Its nice to be able to blame good old fashion ‘management mistake’ for my losses rather than the scourge of varroa or other fancy CCD type diseases, because I know I can improve here. The bees are doing fine, I just need to work on my part of the partnership a bit more. 🙂

Here is my report after checking my hives:

Well, I’ll be hornswaggled!  Them dad blum bees done made it through the winter, I reckon.  Hyuk, hyuk. Least ways, they seem to be alive and scurrying best as I can see, a-some of ’em, anyhoo. Ouch! I done got stung! Omilord, they’s in my har, they’s in my har!  Aaiiii, somebody he’p me, I’m a gettin’ stung to def!

Obviously, I’ve got quite a bit to learn: “Dead outs”, “patrolling mode as if alive in appearance”, “unripe stores” and the mysterious number 4.9.  Apparently, there’s a highly developed language and schema for beekeeping that I haven’t the first clue about.

And the kicker: he blames himself for “management failure”, he’s got to work on his “part of the partnership a bit more.” Dude, let’s do a trade: you teach me how to move unripe frames to the sides to bring capped frames inward, I’ll teach you about “management failure”.

Well, this kind of thing can either make you want to throw down your marbles and go home or double-down and learn what you don’t know.  I’m going with the former.

Nah, just kidding, I’m to win. After I hit publish on this post, I’m going to compose a mail to the group with a bunch of questions I’ve had about what I’m supposed to be doing (when do I start feeding, when do I start adding more supers) that I’ve been too embarrassed to ask.

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