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Beehopper described in a thread an experience that I can relate to. Here's my very similar story.

I started the winter with 3 colonies, two in TBHs and one nuc. The nuc was busting with bees and I hoped was keeping enough stuff to feed itself. Before the real winter set in I fed (and it put up) as much syrup as it could take and I made fondant that I capped across the top of the frames. Hopefully enough food. I had the nuc sitting on another hive and had the brilliant idea that it could take advantage of a place on the ground that normally gets full sun and little snow. The other two hives were fed as well and in fact I left feed jars on them, figuring that when it was warm enough for the syrup to flow it would be warm enough for the bees to go and get it.

Sunday was warm so I thought I would go and check on the hives for the first time since winter began. Well, the normally snowless area I put the nuc in was buried in about 4 feet of snow this year. The recent week has completely melted it and it is obvious that they got wet. The drain in the box was plugged and there was a couple inches of water in the box. Their honey as mostly gone (there was a little here and there) and they were obviously working on the fondant. The nuc didn't make it.

I tapped on the other hives. One gave me a bit of a buzz but sounded pretty small. I hope they make it. One of the guards did come after me. Anyway, this sounds pretty weak to me but then I've never had bees.

The other didn't make a sound. I opened it and found the cluster (about the size if a tennis ball) all starved to death in the middle few combs (these were completely empty of stuff, obviously picked clean) between a couple of combs on either end that were full of honey and untouched. Here I assume that the temperature was so cold for so long that they weren't able to move their cluster to the honey or honey to the cluster, which ever it is.

So, I took the honey combs and stuck them in the hive that I know has bees without exposing the cluster. Again, I hope they make it. I hope there is still a queen. (They do keep her in the middle of the cluster, right?)

So, It looks like I get to start again. And beehopper, I know how you feel.

[In edit: Whoops, the other person is beehoppers]

[ February 12, 2007, 06:20 PM: Message edited by: John F ]
 

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John and Hopper, you could put all our faces on this same story at some point in the early days and at least one season in our more experianced days. Keeping bees is a roller coaster ride of high giddy thrills and low (what seems at the time) defeats. We learn and move ahead. On some wonderful, warm, odiferous, cloudless, harmonic day of beekeeping the wounds are healed and become just another reminder of how alive beekeeping makes us feel, from that 1st. sting of the season to that heady taste of honey on the end of the hive tool near the end of a perfect season.

Take good care of that hive John!

[ February 12, 2007, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: Joel ]
 
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