Lessons In Beekeeping. Losing a Hive.

Farm & Garden

March 10, 2020

On Sunday afternoon the sun was shining and the weather was tap tap taping on the door of 60 degrees. It was warm enough to all work out in the garden in our T shirts. We stripped down out of our carhartts and piled them on the garden chairs while we worked. It had been about a month since I checked on my bee hive and I thought I would take a peek.

My heart sank as I walked closer to the box and I didn’t hear in buzzing. Normally with this warm temp you would hear a bit of action in the hive. I cranked it open and separated one of the frames and saw a puddle of dead bees across the bottom. It was over. I was so mad and sad and disappointed all at once. I had worked so hard at keeping this colony alive through the summer and winter. It did not start very strong and over the summer I was pleased with the progress. When I checked on them last month I was thrilled to see them still alive and strong.

So what happened?

Beekeeping in Michigan Winter

I took a hard look at my frames and consulted with some of my beekeeping friends on Instagram. From the way my bees were positioned they died of starvation.

I know.

I’m so so frustrated with myself. I should have provided extra feed but I thought that leaving all of the honey in the comb would be sufficient because in years previous I would be able to still get about 40 lbs of honey from the spring. This year they left not a drop.

Below is a photo of some of the dead bees I removed from my hive. They are covered in pollen. It is so devastating to loose such a precious resource.

Losing a bee hive

Below is a picture of one of my frames. The yellow is the comb they built and you can see the bees clustered together with some burrowed into the holes.

So now what?

I have decided that I am going to take a year off from keeping bees on my farm until I can build upon my knowledge. It’s not a three strikes and you’re out situation, it’s a three strikes and I need some more training. I am going to be seeking out a mentor to give me some hands on one on one training before I am hopefully able to start back up next spring.

I am going to greatly miss having my bees this summer. They were such a welcome site in my garden and honestly I was amazed at the difference it made with a lot of my vegetables. I am going to be planting some extra special things to hopefully attract more pollinators but until then my frames will remain empty. Hopefully next spring I can update you with some good news!

until then you can check out my previous beekeeping updates here. 

Michigan winter Hive Check Michigan winter Hive Check Michigan Winter Beekeeping

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  1. Lisa says:

    I am so sorry. You are brave to keep bees. You will learn a lot from a mentor. My grandfather kept them. Sometimes he would put out the squeezed wax for them and occasionally sugar water. I wonder if he knew they were hungry? There were sourwood trees all in the woods near his house. The sourwood honey was so divine and a treasure I have come to understand. Forgive yourself! I cannot wait to hear about what you learn! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Thank you! I am very excited to get more hands on training before I take this on again. I will miss having bees in my garden but I don’t want to waste more of our precious resources.

  2. Jessica says:

    It’s so tough to lose a hive! Have you looked into beekeeping with 10 inch langstroth hives? I’m a beekeeper in Mn and that is what I use. This setup was recommended for northern beekeeping from the University of Minnesota.

  3. Kirsten Juenke says:

    Awwww … I’m so sorry and sad! Atta girl, though – you’ll figure it out. I’ve enjoyed your beekeeping stories. I’ll look forward to the great bee recovery! And you’re inspiring me to plant a few flowers this year. Last year was an off year for me. Gonna try to spark some joy with flowers around here. We could all use it right now.

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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