Vanishing honeybee colony

There were no bees at the hive entrance on mild days last month when I expected to see a few flying to look for flowers. To avoid starvation, I fed them home-made candy, but it was consumed slowly, a bad omen, and there was a minor invasion of ants.

When I inspected the hive last week, I found a few hundred dead bees on the gauze base or stuck to combs. It was very disheartening, again. The colony was strong through the summer after starting as an Italian nuc in late April. There were no signs of hive beetles, mites or wax moths.

Once again, I had to dismantle a dead hive and store frames containing honey, nectar and pollen in the freezer until they are needed by a new colony.

Next time they may be Russians. Honeybees that evolved with tracheal and varroa mites in the Far East are said to be more resistant to these foes. It’s a story of adaptation over countless generations, like the blight that eliminated the native chestnut tree across eastern North America but has co-existed for eons with the Chinese chestnut tree.  

Langstroth bee hive
The Russians are coming next time

I feel like a farmer who’s lost a cow. I didn’t know my winged livestock intimately, like my dogs, but their loss was more than economic. Visiting their home almost every day, I grew fond of them and gardens close by will miss their services.

Next Post: A brief history of climate sirens

By Roger Gosden

A British and American scientist specializing in reproduction & embryology whose career spanned from Cambridge to Cornell's Weill Medical College in NYC. He married Lucinda Veeck, the embryologist for the first successful IVF team in America. They retired to Virginia, where he became a master naturalist and writer affiliated with William & Mary.

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