Facing Reality – The Hive Count

“Most people give up just when they are about to achieve success.” – Ross Perot

My heart kept whispering that quote in my ear yesterday to keep my brain from acknowledging my eyes. So what had my eyes seen?

Hive-A.1.VSH was empty. The strong, healthy hive that I had harvested from this year and was set to be the mother of all my future grafts was empty. The five frame nucs that flanked each side of the hive were healthy. No signs of beetles. A little moth silk but even that looked like it had come after the exodus. The bees had simply absconded.

I felt gut-punched. After a year of hard work and struggles, all my efforts have had little to no payoff. While there may still be time to graft a few queens for practice, the time to split hives is over.

It is so frustrating knowing how close I am to breaking through and yet to have made so little progress this year.

I went inside and told my wife. Jen didn’t say much at first. She knows I’m trying (I wish I could say I’d done my best but, in my heat, I know I could have done more.)

I poured a Coke Zero over ice and flipped on YouTube – despair has set in.

It’s funny how sometimes you get just what you need just when you need it. Justine Rhodes, who is doing a farm tour series picked yesterday to remind people that it doesn’t matter if things workout or not, “Just Plant.”

When the video was over, Jen looked at me and said, “So there you go.”

She was right. So I got my gear together and made a full inventory of all three yards.

My backyard was first. VD is still limping along, VE is thriving, and VF is still waiting to receive grafts. Of course Hive-A.1.VSH is empty.

The Old Farm was next. This was actually the first time I had been to the old farm all year – mainly because it is always too muddy out there and because it is (15) miles away. I found just what I expected. The cantankerous hive that had fallen over in 2016 was dead but the other hive had actually thrived and had (4) full boxes of honey and bees.

Then I went to Dr. D’s place. All (7) hives are doing great – even Hive-B.1.1 that had previously been infested with beetles. Hive-B.1.1 doesn’t have a queen or queen cells but had lots of healthy looking bees – so I placed another frame of eggs from Hive-B.1 in there.

I tried to steal a queen cell from Hive-C but they had already hatched out the queen – a fact I would have known had I done the math. Hive-C’s queen was actually due to be out mating yesterday – I hope my inspection didn’t cause any problems.

The other good news is that the frames that I re-waxed and placed in Hive-A are being drawn out perfectly. So all of those old plastic frames I have can still be salvaged.

All in all the final hive count is Old Farm (1), Dr. D’s (7) and Home (3) five frame nucs.

Am I disappointed that I don’t have (100) hives now? Sure – though it wasn’t really a realistic goal. However, I don’t think I started with (6) since the one at the old farm probably never made it through the winter. So, I turned (5) hives into (8) hives with (3) nucs.

Given all the mistakes I made this year (that I won’t make next year) – my gains were still gains. Next year will be better and my gains will be exponential. So bring on the winter, so I can get out in my shop and build some boxes!

So there you go.

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