Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Bees Are Gone Again

After a run, I passed by the hive and paused a moment to see if all was well.  I noticed a yellow jacket enter freely. It wasn't attacked and chased away, like it should have been.

Houston, we have a problem. 

Fearing the worst, I sat down this afternoon to intentionally observe. A bee, then one yellow jacket, then two, came and went as if they owned the place.

Wax crumbs rested on the entryway--a sure sign the hive was being honey-robbed. Not a guard bee in sight was defending the homefront. I pulled the winterizing layers off--just weeks before the wood and styrofoam had protected an active hive from the winter's cold. The observation window now exposed, revealed the awful truth-not a bee in sight. Sigh....I'd lost another hive.

At summer's end, Nikki and Lisa both lost a hive or two. We were all down to one hive. So puzzling, since Lisa's had JUST been strong and thriving. We are back to square one of the equation.

I cleaned out the hive, stuffed the entry so yellow jackets couldn't squat for the winter and carried the few bars of honey upstairs to harvest.

Discouraging, but I won't give up.

Next spring, I will start rooftop beekeeping. However, it's not technically a rooftop, it's the third floor deck.

I'm not sure when beekeepers started keeping hives on the roof, but all over the world, in hotels, in apartments, beekeepers are suiting up. The needed sun exposure is often guaranteed, and the foxes who roam my hillside will never make it to the third floor.

It's my fourth year of beekeeping and I'm not sure I can really call myself a beekeeper.

Sometimes it feels like a lost cause. As I tore the hive apart, I wondered how much money I've invested in the cause I believe in: protecting our food sources. Almost 70% of our agriculture needs pollination. The raspberries have tripled in production since I've kept bees.

...but here's the misconception...I don't keep bees. As much as I think I do, the bees have proven otherwise...obviously.

I often wonder if our efforts to save certain aspects of the environment fall into the same category as thinking we are keeping bees. Can the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions stop the rising seas, or has it been in the making for hundreds of years--with or without our destructive help? I try a new kind of hive, move the bees in and out of the sun, when I suspect it doesn't matter. Yet, just as I am the steward of my bees, we are all stewards of the earth and to not make sacrifices would be a crime against nature--but still nature rules.

In 1985, scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. CFS or chlorofluorocarbons, the chemical used in hair sprays and refrigeration were the cause. Because of the threat to human health and even existence, a first time ever world agreement to ban CFCs occurred. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 has every country's signature who is a part of the United Nations. The hole in the ozone quit growing. Yet scientists postulate the thicker ozone layer actually contributes to global warming. Other scientists report the hole is as big as it has ever been.

Still, I will order my bees for next spring. I have heard of a heartier breed that is more resistant to the decimating varroa mite that weakens hives. I suspect my hive was weak after the varroa mite had gained a foothold in the hive. I naturally treated the varroa but the hive moved on to greener grass--and they didn't ask permission.