If you read my last post, including updates, you will see I was quite wrong about several things.
- Although I knew drones were bigger than workers, the large eyes of the bee in the “stand-off” photos convinced me it was a drone, despite it not having a blunt body and being the same size as the other bee.
- When we tested for Foulbrood and the test was negative, I assumed (always a mistake), our bees were in the clear. Wrong again. They have Parasitical Mite Syndrome, which means their chances of making it to spring are slim indeed.
And yet, as one reader commented about the Yellow Jackets, we can’t give up until the bees do. As long as they are alive, we will continue to do everything we can to give every chance possible to survive.
What this means in practical terms is pretty much following the winter strategy we had already decided on.
- Feed them as much as they want to take.
- Treat them again for Varroa (this time with a vaporizer).
- Winterize their hive with insulation and a wrap.
If they don’t survive, our next bees will benefit from this year’s bees’ work by starting with drawn comb instead of foundation and having honey, rather than sugar water, as food if they need it.
So, lessons learned:
- Beekeeping has a steep learning curve. There is much to know, and I don’t think anyone can become an expert in a day (if ever).
- Sometimes, you just have to do what you can and trust your bees to know what’s best for them.
- If you are the sort of person who wants to feel smart and be right all the time, beekeeping is probably not for you.
- Some hives thrive despite ignorance and lack of care.
- Other hives fail no matter how much care and thought they are given.
- Use drone frames early, and make sure you take them out before the drones (and Varroa) emerge.
- Treat for Varroa. Just assume your hives have them. They do.
- When you put out dry pollen for your bees, every bee in a five mile radius will come to call.
- Everyone has different ideas about how to do things. Some of these strategies may work for you. Some won’t.
- Because every hive is different.
- In no way does the above truth excuse you from learning as much as you can.