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trouble in the bee hive

The walk to my honeybees leads me through our grove and then through our field. And every time, when I finally make my way I round the grove so the hives are in eye shot, I hold my breath. Because I love my bees and want them to thrive. But weird things are happening to bees like colony collapse and I feel like I'm sort of waiting for something to go wrong. My greatest fear is that I'll round the corner and find my bees have swarmed and are gone or that disease has set into my hives or that the bees have died. I am strangely attached to my bees. And I would be devastated if something happened.

Last Friday I put on my gear, rounded the corner and found a scattering of dead bees at the base of each hive. I wanted to cry. I felt so responsible, so helpless and so sad. I loaded my smoker and slowly watched the activity around the hives.

There wasn't a whole lot to watch...the runway that is usually dense with bees flying in and out of the hive was pretty quiet. So I opened the first hive and saw lots of bees in there, moving pretty slowly. There wasn't a lot of buzzing but they seemed to be fanning themselves a lot.

I opened the second hive and it was about the same. The bees were still there, but they were less active. I walked back to the house and called my bee teacher, Adam. And then I got on a bee keeping forum and explained what I had seen.

I didn't have any answers and left for an overnight with my cousins and aunts and mom and sister and found myself at the Stockholm, Wisconsin farmers market later that night. There I met a woman selling hot pepper jelly, sweetened with her own honey and told her about my bees.

I told her all that I had seen and that I was pretty upset to see my hives look so weak. Clearly something terrible was wrong with dead bees surrounding the hives. And then she told me the 713th crazy bee fact I have learned since starting this whole adventure: She explained that because it had been so hot the day before and gotten so chilly over night the bees were likely preparing for winter. And that to prepare for winter the female bees will clean house by stinging the male bees to death so they don't have to house and feed the moochers eating their honey all winter long.

What in the world?!! Oh I died. I was so relieved my hives are fine (actually, this is a sign of health she said!) and so shocked by the murders that had happened in my hives that morning. So much of what I have read about hives and bee colonies paints this glorious utopia-like picture of a society that works in unity, each person fulfilling their particular job, working hand in hand to get the job done.

But somehow they have left out the part where the women kill off all the men before wintertime.

At any rate, I was relieved. And humored. And taken aback. All at the same time. I left the farmers market with my mom and sister, aunts and cousins and went out for a lovely dinner to kick off our girls getaway. How very fitting.


Madelyn said...

Oh my gosh! Talk about trouble in paradise. I didn't know female bees did that- brutal but a little funny. Glad your hives are okay!

Kandi said...

Holy smokes batman! Who knew those female bees were murderous little vixens? Glad to hear they are ok!

brittany said...

Oh man, This post cracked me up!

Kristen said...

I love all your bee facts, but this one is by far my favorite!!!