Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Bitter Lesson

We all make mistakes, that's just part of life. However, the error I made last summer was huge.

I had four colonies of honey bees and they seemed to be healthy. They had large populations and very little sign of varroa mites. The bottom boards had very few mites and I saw none at all on the bees. So I thought my bees were okay. I was very wrong!!!!

In November, my three biggest hives quit buzzing. In December the smaller one fell silent as well. The winter had barely begun when my honey bee colonies collapsed and died. This is typically what happens with a mite infestation. I should never have trusted my eyes alone. I should have done a sugar roll sampling which would have given me an accurate account of the mite situation. I even had a bottle of oxalic acid on hand to give them a miticide treatment but thought it wasn't needed

The lesson was bitter, but I vow never to repeat it. For as long as I keep honey bees, I will now test them by sugar roll sampling at least twice a year and apply treatment if needed.

Jorik, from Hudson Valley Bee Supply, demonstrates how to use the sugar roll sampling method in the following video:

Anyway, better days ahead! I've ordered two new colonies from local honey bee breeder and provincial apiary inspector, Brent Halsall. My new packages of bees will be ready to pick up in May or June. Honey bees will once again buzz among the flowers and keep me company as I work my garden.

Dead varroa mites on dead bees. My poor bees met a gruesome end.

And on a much happier note --

On Friday I had the pleasure of my brother and sister's company. We sat around the same table, in the same kitchen of the home we were all raised in and reminisced about the good old days. My sister, a gifted pianist, played some lovely tunes on our old family upright. Under her expert hands, the piano sang worthy of Carnegie Hall.

My brother made and installed a new antenna for receiving over-the-air television signals. It is much smaller than the commercial one I bought about seventeen years ago. And though smaller, it works much, much better! I now receive 22 stations clear and steady. I'll be spoiled for choice!

The nifty D.I.Y. antenna my brother made for me works beautifully.

My cumbersome and tattered old antenna is now retired.


  1. Oh Florence, so sorry to hear of your bee loss. You are so right that some lessons are learnt bitterly. However, now forward you will be checking so you will be sure, not sorry. I just love when I am able to be with my brother and sister too. Isn't it great he was able to fix a new antenna for you. Happy Viewing.

  2. Sorry to hear about losing your bees....good luck with the next bunch.

  3. I learned something totallu new today.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss. Did you know that Beth Girdler has a new bee website? I tried to talk her into it, and it happened! It might all help.


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