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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live near Delaney Farm about 3/4's of a mile north of there in the neighborhood Chamber Heights, in Aurora, Colorado. Delaney Farm is one of Aurora's older open spaces that's been around for a few decades. It was my first encounter with honey bee hives up close. I had ski toured through the area about 15-20 years ago and wonder what a pile of wooden boxes were doing in a middle of the field and once I got close, realized they were honey bees. It was a bright sun shiny day, barely above freezing, and yet there were bees out and about flying. There were a few that had died, maybe having ventured too far from the hives and the suns heat had caused them to sink into the snow. I marveled that they were out at all being it was still winter. I thought honey bees would be just the ticket to have around when my plum trees bloom so early in the spring, there's nothing around to pollinate them.
So fast forward a few years to the present. After that encounter, I made a box like I saw in the field with a little porch for them to land on and put it in my garden. Every year wasp would come and set up in my box, and the following winter I'd knock out the nest and try again next year. One year I tried putting honey in the box to see if that would attract some bees, but instead I got ants that made a steady path to the box until the honey was gone and then as usual, the wasp. Last year I came across something I read, on a way to attract honey bees was with beeswax. A dental technician friend of mine used beeswax for making molds, and gave me 5 lbs to give it a try. I melted it and pour it into one side of my box about 3/4 of an inch thick. I then heated up a hex wrench I thought was about the size of bees, and made a bunch of wholes in the wax that had set up. Early in June for the first time, I saw something what looked like a honey bee, but appeared darker than usual, go into the hive. Wasp were also going into the hive. When it came out, I observed how the phrase beeline was coined. This bee, took off at warp speed in a straight direction to the North. Shortly he was back with about 3 more bees that looked just like him. It seemed that they were protecting the box from the wasp that were continually arriving. This went on for a few days. On June 11th was an event. I was mowing my lawn in the front yard and went around to the back to begin the back yard. When I noticed they're were regular honey bees going in and out of the hive. I was thinking wow they've arrived. As I began to mow my backyard, I was pushing my reel mower along when a bee flew in front of my face, I looked up and the air was full of bees, there had to bee at least a thousand flying about, and I looked at my box and it was now covered with bees. I ran inside and grabbed my camcorder and recorded the event.
So I enjoyed watching my bees, going in and out of the hive, but they weren't staying in my yard. I had sun flowers, zinnias, cosmos, raspberries, hollyhocks all in bloom, but every day they'd leave the hive ignoring my plants and fly off in a southwest direction and returning the same to the hive. The bees that were pollinating my plants and still are, were primarily little fuzzy bumble bees, yellow with an orange stripe.
On August 4th something terrible happened. I checked the hive about 8 in the morning and everything appeared normal, bees were coming and going to and from the southwest as usual. At 2 in the afternoon that day, I checked the hive and there was a baseball sized mound of dead bees on the landing. The bees coming back from the southwest were looking sick, some didn't even hit the landing, reminded me of old world war II movies with wounded corsairs trying to land on a aircraft carrier. After that fateful Wednesday a few bees still lingered for a couple days, very lethargic, but by next Wednesday they were all dead.
So now I have no bees. It's pretty obvious to me someone sprayed the area they were at, maybe even directly on them while they were there and the stuff they used, whatever it was, lethal enough to be brought back to the hive and kill the rest of the bees. I'm thinking now my box is so contaminated I probably ought to destroy it before it kills anymore bees. Then there is the who, a person or a company that did this and what's to stop them from doing it again. I don't see any hope for the honey bee right now or for me to have a hive in my present location. I worry about the bees out there on Delaney's Farm, they certainly are in range of this killing field. I read that bees can range up to 5 miles, if that's the case, no honey bee in a city is safe.

Mike Sumrall
 

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Welcome, Sorry to hear of your bad luck.I lived in Delta CO. last year and heard that a crop duster over sprayed a field and got several hives set nearby. Your ladies most likely were working a field or orchard that was sprayed or the mosquito patrol got them. Alot of gardeners get a hive for their plants only to see the bees go elsewhere, They seem to get fixed on one bloom and work it hard even if its not in their own yard. I don't think I would reuse that hive again as you said it might be poisoned. DON'T GIVE UP if BeeKeeping was easy everyone would be doing it and there wouldn't be forums like this:). I think there is a beekeeping club in Ft. Collins, check with the members and you may beable to get a Nuc or starter hive next spring.Good Luck Jim
 

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Welcome, I marvel at your early success, but am saddened for your loss. Does your state have a compensation program for insecticide kills? You will not get your bees back but you might get a good start on package bees or buying a hive. You should probably report your loss to your agricultural extension agent. Pesticide applicators are bound by federal law to use due diligence, whether it is a homeowner or farmer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I want to thank bsweet and americasbeekeeper for your support. I haven't yet decided whether to try again. I've been doing a bee inventory in my yard and of the about 100 different variety of bees, mostly the bumble bees, I did spot up to 3 honey bees in my yard during any one given time. So I know there must still be viable hives still in the area. I haven't checked in on Colorado's website agriculture if they have anything on honey bees, but it is something I'll look into.

thanks,

Mike:)
 

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Hi Mike,
I'm south of you in the Parker area.
Have you contacted DeLaney Farms about Marty Hardison's beekeeping workshops? I went to one in July and took us around to all his hives there and then showed us how to build a top bar hive. He is having a session on harvesting honey in Sept. http://http://dug.org/events-workshops/
Also I would highly recommend you join a beekeeping club. I belong to the Highland Beekeeping Club and they are a great group of people. http://http://home.comcast.net/~high.land.beekeeping.club/site/
They meet in Littleton once a month and the next meeting is this Thursday. They also offer a beekeeping class which I believe will start up again in January.
There is a beekeeping supply store To Bee or Not To Bee up near I-25 and I-70.
I've only been beekeeping since May but I've learned so much from reading books, the club, and this website.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks beehugger and Oldtimer,

I definitely want to increase my knowledge before I try again. I opened my box yesterday to see what was inside and was totally amazed. I can see where the term, "busy as bees," comes from. They certainly had been busy. For the little over two months I had them, they had almost entirely filled my 16x12x12 inch box with honeycomb and what I found more amazing was the honeycomb was similar to six stalactites attached to the top inside, with each one having cells on both sides, little over an inch thick with about 1/2 inch space between them. I was thinking, these little guys exhibit a long history of domestication, I need to conform with the standard for hive design. There also was about 50 dead bees on the floor in various stages of decomposition and a strong smell of honey. I had made my hive opening from the bottom, thinking at the time, I just want them for pollination, but I realize now how prolific they are and to own them requires a relationship that includes harvesting their product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I went to Marty Hardison's workshop at Delaney's Farm on Saturday the 11th. Harvesting Honey. It was great experience, I learned a lot. It made me realize that my hive was probably doomed from the start because it wasn't big enough. He uses his own design of a topbar hive. I didn't even no there were other designs. I've downloaded his plans for the hive from his web site http://home.comcast.net/~topbarbeehives/site/ and bought the materials for around $50, though it would be cheaper if I could buy corrugated steel roofing in sheets of 4 feet instead of 8, (not on his design plans but was being used in the field,) guess at some point I'll have to build two hives. I was amazed how simple this design is and how easy and non disruptive to the bees it is to collect the honey combs. Now if I can attract another swarm this spring. I'm still seeing honey bees on my property so I feel I have a good shot.

Mike
 

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Oh I'm so glad you were able to go. Did you get a chance to ask him about the spraying and if it affected any of his hives?

Aren't his top bar plans great? When he made one I was surprised how quickly he did it.

If you are interested, the Beekeeping Club I mentioned before has started up another branch that is more convenient for those of living out east. It's the High Prairie Beekeeping Club and we meet the first Wednesday of the month at the Pinery Fire Department in Parker at 6:30. 10235 S Park Glen Way. The next meeting is October 6.
Also the next meeting for the Highland Beekeeping Club is this Thursday and member are bringing in honey samples to be judged. Should be interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I told Marty about my bees, but he did not have any event like that at Delaney's Farm. He did say about the middle of August the bees seemed to be stressed, but he blamed it on the heat and dryness we've had lately. The Topbar hive does look like it should be simple to build. I just need to unbury my table saw out of the clutter in my basement and move it outside where I won't have to worry about all the saw dust I'll be making. As for the bee clubs I'll have to wait for awhile, I have a conflict of interest on those two nights. I get Wednesday nights off in the summer from choir rehearsal and occasionally cancelations occur, I could drop in, if they don't mind.

Mike
 
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