I am very saddened to say that we have no honey to harvest this season. Very likely our bees have been so disrupted and so decimated that they will not survive as a hive.
In early September I placed a bee excluder/separator on our hive. It’s the thin, natural wood piece shown in the photo above. Placing this mechanism on the hive very passively separates the bees from the upper supers (boxes) which are full of pure, capped honey. This allows the beekeeper to come back later and find bee-free supers of honey.
In the photo above I’m coming back later….only to find a confounding, unfortunate situation. The vast majority of all our bees are dead or gone, no queen is anywhere to be found, no brood….No real signs of any significant hive population now, and no signs of the building blocks to replace or re-build a future healthy population of bees. And all of the honey has been stripped from all of the supers, they’re just bare and empty of honey.
I went and spoke with a beekeeper just south of Big Rapids. He also makes woodenware for the beekeeping industry. He’s one of my go-to guys for beekeeping. Telling him the blow-by-blow details, his best guess is that our hive was invaded and robbed.
His best explanation is that a migratory beekeeper has a yard near us.
(The one I know of is at least 1.5 miles from us. A migratory beekeeper travels and ships pallets and pallets worth of bee hives to the next pollination site, often 2-3 places across the country throughout one year.)
John thinks that a great number of bee hives caught wind of our single bee hive. Then these bees descended, invaded, attacked, and robbed our hive. He says that such an invasion is often violent, terribly disruptive, and often destroys the single hive.
And the honey stores are robbed blind.
I’m terribly saddened and disappointed. The honey stores were substantial. We had great honey for the bees to enjoy and overwinter with. Also, fantastic, full supers of capped honey for us. The hive was large and seemed very healthy going into fall.
I’d borrowed an extractor. Purchased jars. Was all ready to extract and bottle honey for you… Only to find a destroyed hive.
John’s best advice was to start again next year.