I’ve gone through two of our four dead bee hives today, with two completely different results. The first was classic starvation: The hive top feeder was empty and there were no stores at all. This must have been one of the splits which didn’t get as well established as I thought. There were also virtually no dead bees which I find a little odd.
There were, however, four mice in residence, white-footed ones, for whatever it’s worth. They had established a very cozy home with lots of nice soft fur. They had also ripped up an awful lot of comb. I burnt two frames which smelled too much of mouse urine and trashed a plastic one that they had gnawed.
There are five more which will definitely need new foundation. I’m letting them air for a while before deciding if they too are actually kindling.
The second hive was completely different. There was syrup in the feeder and and at least thirty pounds of honey, mostly in the top hive body. The bees appeared to have been eating out from the middle of the hive. There was only a few pounds of honey in the lower hive body, all around the edges, but many of the frames in the upper one had only a small arc of empty cells at the bottom. There was also a good bit of pollen stored in the bottom hive body, though interestingly enough much of it had fallen out of the cells and dusted the comb with yellow.
The bees did not seem to be clustered, and there seemed to be brood, which was a big surprise. There also did not seem to be enough bees, nor did they all seem to be the same color. Some were quite yellow while others were orange. This was a little hard to tell since most of the ones in the main hive had been soaked in honey and were pretty far gone.
Only the ones in the upper body or in the corners of the lower one had gotten dried to display standards. Finally, I think I saw three queens although one may have been a drone. However I only saw one queen cup, so who knows.
Again there were not enough bees, although if the brood indicates spring perhaps it was enough. Still, this one looks a lot like ‘colony collape disorder’. This hive also had two frames badly munged by mice. I brought out the two odd frames from the other hive, so now we’re down an even 10. These two however smell ok.
There are two more hives to go. I’m very curious about what I’ll find.
On other matters, the up and down egg laying continues. We’ve had a couple three egg days, so I’m getting optimistic. With decent weather, the chickens are out foraging more and more. Egil seems to do a good job of looking after his girls, though he’s occasionally needed some help from Mom and Bjarki to get them to turn around. They’re no longer as interested in veggies in the coop either, although I don’t think they’re eating much less layer ration, perhaps because they have breakfast before we let them out at the 8AM feeding. It’s hard to imagine the eggs getting yummier, but supposedly they will as the bugs and weeds become available.