I am seeking for answer why our bees died last summer. We are new to beekeeping and don't only want to learn from our own mistakes!
During winter 2009-2010, we had two bee hives. As we are in Montana and winters can get cold and long here, we thought of protecting the bees from the elements a bit better than previous year. We wrapped both hives in plastic and black tar paper to keep the bees warm. Well, we learned that we made a big mistake as the hives didn't vent properly and all the humidity in the hive condensed in the hive cover and "rained" on the bees. The end result was that both hives died that winter.
Since both hives still had quite a bit of honey left, we purchased three packets of bees from Western Bee (Polson, MT). We put a new packet into each "winter kill" hive and also one packet to an old hive (20+ years old) which we inherited from an old collague of mine.
By July, both winter killed hives were struggling. One hive lost the queen and soon all the bees died. The other winter killed hive kept struggling. We saw little brood in this hive and the colony never grew bigger than it was in the beginning. Eventually the second hive was without bees as well.
The third hive, which we coined "slum hive" as the boxes looked so old and used, was thriving and doing great. We ended up harvesting 2.5 gal of honey from that hive and left the rest for the bees for the next winter.
After 2010 summer, we wondered what killed the two hives.
Did we not clean the hives properly before we introduced new packets to the hive?
Had the earlier hives had honey with sprayed fields?
Greetings, At Wits End Farm