Beekeeping is not a hobby for the easily-frustrated (though I am), bee-intimidated (though I am), or budget-conscious (though I am...okay, MOST of the time I am...).
At least once a year I ask myself, then WHY do I continue doing it?
I think the biggest reason is that stubborn streak (I know...hard to believe, right?!) that I have that does not allow me to give up.
The past few beekeeping years have been very frustrating...I try diligently to do everything "right" and still every winter several hives die. Last year all four of them died.
If I knew why they didn't survive, that would be one thing. But that was not the case...they had been properly medicated, plenty of honey to eat, protection from the winter winds...none of that seemed to matter.
Back in August, all four of our hives were thriving.
But when I checked them again in October, to feed them so they would survive the upcoming winter, two of the hives were dead and one other was very weak.
I nearly cried walking back to the cabin.
Then I stuck out my jaw in my best Bud House imitation and went inside and ordered new honeybee colonies for 2018.
I guess I'm a glutton for punishment.
Or just plain stubborn.
Probably, truth be known, a combination of all three.
Kim walks around the hives every few days and had kept reporting to me that there were dead bees outside one of the hives.
Which is a good thing.
The vast majority of a honeybee colony naturally dies off during the winter, leaving only a core of bees and their queen. Honeybees are fastidious housecleaners, so when a bee dies it is taken outside the hive.
Dead bees outside means live working bees inside.
With the temperatures unseasonably in the 70s yesterday, I put on my beesuit to check them out and give them some old honey to eat to help them get through until spring.
As I expected, the one hive that had been weak was no longer.
But....there were BEES outside of the other hive!
Flying in and out!! Buzzing around me!!!
Ironically, the alive hive was a swarm I had collected...
...from the edge of a neighbor's field back in May.
It had been a small swarm and we got just a little honey from it, but now I'm thinking those must have been feral honeybees that know how to survive Hoosier winters much better than the pampered, specially bred honeybees that I purchased last year.
They were tough!
I realize we're not finished with winter yet, and many times I've had hives die in March, so I'm not holding my breath just yet.
But I was pretty excited to have...
...an alive hive.