Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cry Murder!

Everybody has to eat right?  But often one creature's dinner is a fresh kill.

When watching nature shows I'd feel sorry for the poor wildebeest or zebra being chased by the hungry lion.  Then they'd show the baby lion cubs and I'd feel for them too.  After all they were just hungry and Mom was trying to feed them.  Everybody has to eat don't they?

Nevertheless, it's still killing isn't it?

This brings me to report that I returned to the bee yard after three or four days.  My plan was to check on the small swarm that was living in a medium super.  A few days ago I shook them out of their hive only to find they had a queen.  Their equipment quickly reassembled and them back inside I fed them sugar water.

I did have the foresight to protect them.  I reduced all entrances down to a tiny keyhole.  I knew the yard was in a robbing mode--between blooms from summer into fall--and I had given them sugar water to help give them a boost.  With a tiny entrance they should be able to defend themselves easily.

Or so I thought.

In hindsight I should probably have removed the hive from the yard and brought it home.  Or maybe just let it go since they were so small.

When I removed the inner cover I couldn't see any bees at all.  I hefted the super to look from underneath but once I had raised it I saw what had happened.

They were all dead.  Their bodies were spread all over the floor of the hive.  Actually I should say their body parts.  All that was left was their heads and legs.  They had been eaten.

I'm pretty certain they fell victim to wasps or hornets--those omnivores that were over hungry at the end of summer.  It was only last week that I discovered they had a lovely little queen.  Then I had to be out of town a few days.

It was a sad homecoming.


Jim said...

Wow, Barbara, that's a shame. At least you did all you could reasonably do. Had you moved them, the same might have happened anyway. And, their chance of survival had you let them go might not have been much better. You gave them a chance.

Mike Hackeson said...

Sorry about your hive.
The predatory insects have been crazy this year. Rightly or wrongly, I've been blaming it on the crazy weather.
We've been fighting ant infestations ever since May, where usually we get one or two in the spring and we're done for the year. The wasps and hornets have been extremely aggressive. My mom came to visit and got stung 4 times by hornets in one attack. Debbi, my wife, has allergies and has been afraid to go into some places on our property.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Mike, you're right about the predators. It's definitely different this year and they're much more aggressive than usual. The problem with the wasps and hornets is they can sting multiple times, not like the bees.
I'm wondering if your ant infestation is in your bee hives? I have some ants that moved into one hive (a space at the time that the bees don't go in) but they haven't caused any problems. They're just there becuase of the rain and the warmth.

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Jim, thanks for your comments. I have to agree with you. I did everything I could and from there it's up to good old Mothe Nature.

Max said...

Real shame to lose the swam after finding it actually had a queen :(

Kat said...

I did not know that wasps and hornets ate bees! I learn something every time I visit your site! Still following!