Taking Care of Our Honey Bees
BeeLoved Trading’s apiaries had a hard winter and based on what we’ve learned from our fellow beekeepers, we weren’t alone. Many apiaries in our region lost over 60% of their colonies this last winter due to starvation, despite food being readily available in most of the hives.
From our inspections, we can determine the bees were alive with plenty of food reserves to make it to spring when the polar vortex hit us in February. However, each dead colony was filled with large clusters of deceased bees. The issue didn’t stem from not being able to find food. In extremely cold weather bees tightly cluster together around the queen to stay warm. When there is no weather break under those conditions the bees can’t survive breaking their cluster to get food (honey), even when it might be only a few inches away. Additionally, they are using more calories to stay warm with the extreme cold.
We found many of our colonies starved to death in a tight cluster only inches from their honey storage. Losing so many of our bees was a devastating and frustrating discovery. Beekeeping in Oklahoma is a labor of love, and we want our hives to do well. We also enjoy being able to share their honey when we can do it in a low-impact way.
We are busy rebuilding our apiaries and have made the decision to spend our energy and the bee ingenuity this year on splitting our surviving colonies. Splitting colonies is a great way to multiply hives but it weakens them for a time. We make splits during the warm months when resources are most available. However, splitting a hive limits their ability to make surplus honey, and we want to make sure our bees are able to meet their own needs first.
As a result, we feel it is best to not harvest honey from our bees this year to let them grow stronger for next winter. Allowing them to keep all their honey increases their chances of survival, assuming we have a normal winter. Thank you for supporting BeeLoved Trading and understanding our honey situation. We will all miss it this year!