Two bees, or not two bees

Always something to learn at Seven Trees, even if the lesson isn’t particularly pleasant. Not long after finally decding what to name our 2 hives (the Sophie and the Surprise) we lost the Sophie to human-induced robbing.

To help treat a fungus called nosema that affects bees, one less-harmful ‘medicine’ is thymol, basically an extract of thyme that can be mixed with the bees’ sugar syrup. We pulled the honey super from the top of the hive, so the bees wouldn’t start mixing the medicated (and very pungent) syrup in with the finished honey. We planned to put the honey back on after a course or two of thymol. But in taking the honey off and leaving exposed too long, we unknowingly alerted every other bee & yellow-jacket in the area that there was a tasty buffet to be had.

We put the honey super in the shop, so the robbers started looting the Sophie. They seemed like a robust hive, plenty of guard bees, and lots of reserves, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the invaders.

In hindsight (and after much emergency research), we now know there were steps we could have taken to mitigate the raiding. But it was too late for the Sophie. After a few checks to see if there were any Sophies left, we decided it was time for a post-mortem on the hive.

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2 thoughts on “Two bees, or not two bees”

  1. Sorry to hear about the robbing, yet it is so helpful to learn from you guys. And now a “don’t know a lot” question – if or when Surprise swarms, is it likely to find Sophie?

  2. We broke down the Sophie hive, so there’s nothing left to swarm to. Hopefully we’ve learned enough to keep the Surprise from swarming, but if they do, we’ll try to catch the swarm in a new hive box (thanks to neighbors Mike & Terri) and have a 3rd hive.

    The Sophie will be reborn as the Leopard in April, probably with Italian bees instead of the Carniolans in the current hive. Carniolans are more friendly, but Italians are better foragers, and that’s what our bee supplier has for sale in 2011.

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