Thursday, August 6, 2009
1. Start on time.
If you start too late, the hive won't build up in time to produce honey and make it through the winter. This also led to my other issues. If I had started on time, numbers 2 and 3 would not have been an issue.
2. Purchase from a reputable source.
I bought my hive on eBay because no one else was selling a bee package late in the season. That was silly. When my hive came, they were half dead, including the queen. But also see number 3.
3. Don't let a heat wave take over.
I received my bee package on one of the hottest days this summer. ninety degree days, humidity, and trucking do not do well for bees. When I received my package I almost fainted from the smell of decomposing bees. Again, start on time because the bees will be in their hive by the time the heat hits, as opposed to
being trapped in a wooden crate.
4. Act Fast.
If something goes wrong, act swiftly and make a decision. Every decision I have made with my hive came too late. Talk to fellow beekeepers, join an association, do research, but regardless, if you think your hive is in danger, decide quickly what the next steps are.
5. Watch the Queen
When I purchased my bees, the queen was dead. I bought a new queen and I had misunderstanding with the apiary, so they did not mail the queen for two weeks after I purchased. then, when I put the queen in the hive, I decided to pry open the little box it came in to "speed" up the re-queening process. Instead, the hive and queen both got confused and she disappeared.
Current Status of Hive:
I feel like I am playing God because I have the ability to kill my hive of bees. Understanding the bigger picture of pollination and genetics and ecology, how can I let my hive still live while doing what is right for the bigger picture? If I let my hive struggle to survive, the bees will be below par and if the drones mate (which some of the workers produced) they will spread inferior genes. Again, do I play God and let them suffer and slowly die so they can still offer their pollination services or is that torture? Or should I say, bees can not feel pain? but they do feel some sense of loss because they do not have a real hive to belong to. Honey Bees are an exemplary model of democratic community, if managed correctly.
If I have learned anything, it is that it is crucial that I start on time, because although honey bees are somewhat domesticated, they are truly a wild animal. although the way I managed the hive certainly affects the bees, the whims of nature also affect the health of the hive. Bees depend on the seasons of nature for their success, so human keepers should work with natural timing.