2016 has not been a good year for my bees. My ‘end-of-year’ hive status saw four bee hives that had activity. Now I have only one.
After being in denial for a few weeks, I figured I’d face up to the fact this Warré was a goner.
Biting the bullet I figured I’d better find out ALL the bad news…and opened up Bee Beard log hive. Somehow rainfall had gotten inside here too, even with the hat and headband. Because of El Niño, we’ve had copious amounts of rainfall. Yes, it’s good for the forests, but not so good for the bee hives.
Footnote to above…I’d like to make a waterproof ‘hat’ for this hive. If anyone has a suggestion, please pass it on to me.
So why have these hives died back? Could it be the El Niño effect? Record rainfall in December? Ron lost his hives around December. This year I didn’t cover my hives very well. I should have been more careful.
Another thing that’s been bothering me for awhile is the questionable source of swarms I get from time to time. Where are they coming from? I’m beginning to realize they might be coming from the commercial hives in the cranberry bogs. The commercial hives, I just learned from a cranberry grower, come straight up from the almond orchards in California.
These ‘almond orchard bees’ could be infecting my bees and I DON’T GET any payment.
My wife suggests I ask Bill W. if he sells any Warré nucs. Bill lives inland about 150 miles (241 km). I tell him of my suspicions of commercial hives. His reply…
I don’t have Warré nucs for sale. I get a lot of “bad” swarms also. These are mostly from poorly kept urban high density colonies having bees from poor commercial sources. I pick up a lot of swarms with poor genetics and failing queens. It has caused me to put out more hives and rely upon higher colony failure.
In the Willamette Valley, many commercial beekeepers will keep their colonies here when not busy with almonds or cranberries or something else.
Good luck. -Bill”
After assuming my troubles have come from the cranberry “bog bees,” I asked Steve about his bees. We had gotten a swarm of bees, (most likely they were from cranberry hives) last year, May 30th.
Then there’s Pete’s beehives. I asked him recently about his bees. He is near cranberry bogs too. “They’re doing great. Out flying every non-rainy day, getting into madrone blossoms and other things, possibly even gorse, bringing back all kinds of pollen.”
Bob (of home-built bee vac fame) said his hives were doing fine too. Bob is located near the bogs too. Hmmm, maybe I can’t blame my bee problems on the bogs.
Since my tree hive seems to have lasted through everything, I decide to try another one. I’ve got to do some trimming around it, but this will be the location for the next one. It’ll hold Warré sized bars, but it’s too heavy to lug around for a bait hive, so I’ll be trying to attract a swarm.
Bottom line…I think it was the El Niño rainfall. I chose NOT to cover my Warré bee hives this winter. Why not? I didn’t see other beekeepers cover their hives up. I think the difference this year is my observation window covers are slightly warped (outward) Some rain possibly entered there. With so much more rainfall this year than in other years, it was just too much. Somehow the rain got into Bee Beard Log Hive too. I’ll have to work up some kind of ‘head gear’ to shed water. As for the Grand Kids Log hive? I still have to figure that one out. Maybe it WAS a weak, diseased strain of bees from the commercial hives.