bees & flowers :: successes & failures


It’s that time of year where the flowers are coming inside. Our beautiful new windows (such a treat to have new windows!) are getting opened everyday to enjoy spring breezes. Slowly the line between indoors and outdoors is getting blurred.

It was a welcome side indeed to walk into a house filled with flowers on a day like today, when upon complete inspection of my two hives, I realized both are in a sad state of decline. One is queenless, has wax moths and appears to have sent out a well populated swarm. The other, also in low population, has a queen but appears to have a fair amount of dead, almost mature larvae still in their cell (chalkbrood possibly?). Neither hive looked good. It was supposed to be a good day with only my oldest son at home. We went out to brunch and then were to have a happy, learning filled hive inspection together. We learned, for sure, but having mama walk back into the house with a heavy heart and tears in her eyes was not part of the plan.

I’ve been told that this happens. Colonies die. To not give up. But it is hard not to feel incredibly guilty. What was I thinking in believing I could keep tens of thousands of bees happy when I have such little time to give them? And now I have to find time despite foreseeing a busy weekend. Do I combine them? Do I get a new queen? Do I call it all a loss? Oy!

The good news is that the garden is booming along and I’ve learned a few new tricks that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. In a rare instance, plants that I thought I had killed over the winter are making a strong comeback and the new plants I got this year are growing just great. (Usually I always kill a few new plants.) Maybe I should keep my focus on growing plants and not an apiary.

…at least there are flowers…



Filed under beekeeping, Flowers

16 responses to “bees & flowers :: successes & failures

  1. Have you watched “The Vanishing Bees”? It’s a documentary and should still be available on Netflix. Maybe there isn’t anything you could’ve done… pesticides and GMO crops are killing bees everywhere 😦

  2. The flowers look absolutely beautiful – you seem to have a special gift with things natural. I think you should persevere with the bees but find out if other people in your area have had similar problems. There could be something environmental or a spray being used on a nearby farm that’s behind it… or maybe some sort of electromagnetic interference that’s caused them to pack up and leave. Worth checking out as I think it’s a wonderful thing to be doing (we intend to at some stage too) and so important for your garden, the whole environment and for the bees themselves. Keep up the fantastic work!

  3. Jennifer

    Hi Kendra, I’m so sorry to hear about your bees in distress. I am a beekeeper as well, two seasons now. I have lost 3 out of 4 hives so far. My first hive froze during it’s first winter, and last summer the other two fell to American foul brood, I had to burn Everything. I was devastated and discouraged! My remaining hive made it through this last winter just fine and is doing remarkably well. Needless to say I fretted and worried, and even put a blanket and a sheet of plastic over the hive during freezing temps. I cannot explain the exuberance of nursing a hive through the winter and having it survive. I still have so much to learn. And frankly, if something took this hive down, I would prepare it for a new swarm because I have had such joy in watching and observing my bees. Beekeeping has been the greatest hobby I have ever had. Don’t Give Up! Our world needs bees. And you are perfect for the job. Keep learning, keep asking questions. Go to forum. It’s very informative and friendly. Call your local Ag office and get put onto a ‘I need a swarm list’.Get your hives ready for a new batch of bees. Tis the season. Chin up girl! hugs, Jen

  4. bonnie reid

    Have you tried using B.t. to control wax moths?

  5. Melissa

    Beautiful pictures of your flowers. I love the way you use the lighting.

  6. Jennifer

    Bonnie- what is B.t.?

  7. Yep, beekeeping isn’t always a roaring success. I keep wondering if it’s me or the bees. How’s the swarm situation in your area? I’ve had great luck repopulating using swarms. We’re called out every time it warms up here. Hang in there.

  8. So sad when your creatures die. We lost our 2 hives last Spring and have’nt had the heart to get any more.

  9. Lorrie

    So sorry to read about the bees, but don’t give up! The bees need you, and so do we! As a very wise farmer friend said to us when we lost a lot of lambs one year for no apparent reason, “That’s farming. Not every year is a good one.”
    Love your posts…

  10. Sorry to hear this. A lot of beekeepers have lost hives this winter. Colonies can usually cope with chalk brood, so they must have been weakened to begin with.

    Are the dead larvae in big slabs/areas, particularly towards the bottom of the frames? If so, the problem could be chilled brood, which happens when there are not enough nurse bees to keep the brood warm. You can give them a better chance by keeping the amount of space in the hive to a minimum. If they are only on a few combs, put a dummy (follower) board at the edge of the brood nest.

    You probably have nothing to lose by combining the two weak hives together, but first check for laying workers in the queenless hive. The signs are multiple eggs in cells, laid touching the side of cell walls. If you have laying workers in there, they could attack the queen when you combine the two hives.

  11. Hi Kendra, We live in Sonoma and we started out with two hives in May of 2011. We’ve lost two hives, replaced them with a swarm we captured. Now, we think this hive may have swarmed. I feel guilty because I probably could’ve prevented them from swarming if I’d known more. I want them to come back.

    We just joined the Sonoma County Beekeepers Association. You can find their website at Thea Vierling is the INCREDIBLY helpful Regional Coordinator and you can contact her at : Regional

    Hang in there. We will.

  12. Jennifer

    Wow! It’s nice in kinda weird way, that others are having a difficult time as well. My reply at the beginning of this thread explained my two year troubles. Lost 3 out of 4 hives. One froze. The following season two fell to AFB. Got my one lone hive through the winter with flying colors, when just 4 days ago my hive got raided by ‘black bottom bees’. My bees the victor’s but some have swarmed, won’t get them back. I’ve decided that beekeeping is the craziest hobby I have ever had, and the one I have loved the most. Go Figure

    • asonomagarden

      Totally Jennifer, you said it perfectly! It IS the craziest hobby ever! Thank you very much for your pep talk, I really needed it. So sorry to hear that you lost 3 hives! As one woman said yesterday, if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning anything. That made me feel better. Thank you for your comments!

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