Our second class was an “awakening” for me. Richard and Jenny did a super job of transferring their vast wisdom about the bees and the equipment needed for a beekeeper. It is clear how deeply they both care about the bees and about us newbies trying to grasp all the critical points. Richard and Jenny have both developed great teaching styles in the way that they present the information verbally, visually, by demonstration and then allowing us to do it ourselves.
My “awakening” came when we opened Hive #3. The process felt invasive to me and I was feeling uncomfortable about my trespass. Then my feelings turned to real concern as we witnessed the bees struggling. We searched for the queen with no luck, finding only queen cells–some empty and one being fed. We found small hive beetles and the deformed wings of bees that were victims of a virus transferred by the varroa mite. So many battles to fight for these little honeybees. I have read about the challenges and threats to the bees for years, but I was never this close to the battle.
I can understand why re-queening is so important to the colony. You could almost hear their clocks ticking without the queen. Bees are much more vulnerable to pests and population decline without her leadership and strength. It is evident how colony collapse can happen without the constant vigilance of the beekeeper. With Richard showing the way we ran through a diagnostic of the colony in the least invasive way. He explained how we can help them by monitoring their health and wellbeing and by stepping in where we can to boost them up. Richard was very concerned about the colony being queenless and said he had just re-queened several colonies earlier that week.
So with that short visit into a hive, I am now emotionally invested in Hive #3 and hope to find out how they are doing first thing next Saturday.
Posted by Christine Young
a href=”http://www.westernsare.org/”>This project was funded by a grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.