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Saturday, March 10, 2007

To Bee or Not To Bee

When I was out hiking a couple of weekends ago I made some decisions about aspects of my life that weren't working the way I had thought they would. One of the decisions I came to was that I should give away my bee hives. I went into last fall with 3 hives, two starter hives and the swarm that adopted me a couple of years ago. I knew that it was iffy for even the swarm to make it through the winter without intervention, and that the two others would be gonners. Sure enough as the weather has warmed, two of the hives showed no signs of life. I feel very guilty about this. Their survival was in my hands and I botched it. Not due to lack knowledge or being a beginning beekeeper. I've been at this long enough now (3 years) that I can't really say I'm a beginner. No, I let the hives die out.

Because of my guilt I haven't gone to the county beekeeper's meetings in a very long time. I really enjoy those folks. Occasionally someone from the group would call me, and I made vague excuses. Since I had decided to give away my equipment I went to the meeting this morning. In the two weeks since the hiking trip I have had second and third thoughts about getting rid of the bees. Yes, there is a lot of equipment and it would be an easy way to feel like I was clearing out stuff. But, well, I do like the bees. And, my swarm was still alive, so I had one hive in some kind of condition other than dead. With all the talk of hive beetles, though, I figured that I had them now, too, and that I might well not be able to salvage much of anything after all.

At the meeting there was a talk on hive beetles. Yes, it is pretty much a given that hives in Middle Tennessee have hive beetles now. I was getting depressed cause I had reconsidered and decided to keep the bees at least one more season. Dan, one of the guys there, followed me home and we went through the hives. Yes, I starved the two weaker hives. At this point, though, the equipment is salvageable. The swarm hive is in really, really good shape, and I should get honey off it this year IF I TAKE CARE OF IT. He helped me clean up the equipment and gave me pointers on what I need to do. And, the amazing thing is, I don't have hive beetles! If I start treatments now I can keep that problem pest at bay.

So, I'm going to see about ordering 2 more packages of bees to have a total of 3 hives again. I have the equipment. This is my test year to see if I keep up with them. I may still get rid of them at the end of the season, but I'd like to go out after a successful season rather than feeling like a failure.

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