Beekeepers encounter all sorts of challenges in the course of establishing and maintaining healthy colonies. Ron and I have done battle with wax moths, small hive beetles, varroa mites, velvet ants, heat waves, cold snaps, and various other issues in our own apiary. We’ve lost queens, captured swarms, and scratched our heads in bewilderment after an apparently happy colony of Carniolans suddenly absconded one summer at the peak of nectar flow, taking their honey stores with them.
In northern regions, black bears are a common adversary, and rodents have been known to pillage weak colonies. African apiarists might tangle with honey badgers, and pesticides are a constant issue for beeks all over the United States.
After keeping bees for the better end of a decade, I thought we’d seen just about everything, but nothing could have prepared us for the latest madness:
While we were out to dinner with some friends last Friday evening, our neighbor’s son — a good-natured twentysomething who sometimes seems to possess more idealism than brain — and his buddy inexplicably decided to come over and open one of our hives. The guy was under the impression that he and the bees were “friends” because the girls frequently drink from mud puddles in his dad’s backyard, so he figured they wouldn’t mind if he looked into the hive.
I’ll let you guess how well that worked out for him.
Unfortunately, while the bees drove away the invaders easily enough, a super broke in the process, and we didn’t have a replacement because we had just worked the hives earlier in the week and were waiting on a Dadant shipment to replenish our supplies. We wound up having to replace it with a box of Ross Rounds, which our girls HATE.
A week later, they’re still grouchy, and they’re bearding more than our other three colonies. Mercifully, the new supers came in yesterday, so hopefully we can get them assembled, swap them out, and get the colony calmed down and back to normal.
Meanwhile, our miscreant reimbursed us for the broken super, and he has agreed to suit up and help me with this summer’s harvest. He is very excited about this. I expect his enthusiasm will wane after eight hours of capping, extracting, bottling, rendering, and mopping up afterward, but at least he’ll learn something, and I’ll have an extra pair of hands to help with the process.
It’s always something….