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[personal profile] doodlemaier posting in [community profile] bee_folk
It's been almost a month now since a week long stretch of 100°+ days and with the Strasburg hives in direct sunlight most of the day the heavy, honey-laden combs of Brigid collapsed just like those of her daughter hive back in May. I first noticed activity of individual bees and scavengers busy underneath the hive where liquid honey had run down the inside of the cinder block support and despite my worst fear I held out hope that perhaps the high daytime temps were merely causing uncured nectar to ooze out of open cells. I gave them a week after when I'm fairly certain the collapse actually happened to observe what the colony themselves might do to remedy the problem. Mostly their response was limited to permanently clustering in the dormer of the roof and drawing a pathetic little comb and wait for death. . . This episode proved to be far more destructive than the last and likely killed the queen in the deluge.

I confirmed the collapse when my anxiety overcame the apprehension to reach underneath the hive to touch the screened floor - the entire comb structure failed and ripped the plastic screen of the floor right out of its frame (a possible disadvantage of the one piece bases). Once again the smell of small hive beetle infection was unmistakable and I tore the entire hive down, leaving the worm-infested comb in a large pile to be cleaned by all the scavenging skunks and yellow jacket wasps. Although I resisted the primal response, I admit that I was pretty depressed. Again, this incident was my fault for not taking a couple boxes of honey off the top when my initial fume board design failed.

The following day was Monday and the solution, if indeed there were any at this point, was obvious: I could employ the trap-out concept, taking a frame of day-old eggs from a donor hive, put them into a conventional super with other drawn frames and sweep the survivors into the new box and hope they re-queen. I emailed Chuck who was at the dental lab 60 miles away to run the idea by him. Initially he offered me a entire nuc to replace the loss but sent me a long at any rate to his apiary in the FV, even without his oversight, to fetch what I thought I might need from his hives.

Now, a week after transferring the survivors to a Lang hive I've witnessed bees returning bearing plenty of pollen and, although I could easily check on their progress, I'm confident that they are attempting to re-queen and rebuild. The biggest problem at this point is the fact that all of their summer stores were destroyed in the collapse, ruined by SHB and otherwise scavenged by other colonies. I'll end up feeding them throughout the remainder of the season and ultimately will transfer what frames they manage draw and cap in the mean time and attempt to over-winter them as a nucleus colony.

I always say that "experience is what we get when we don't get what we want" and this calamity is no different in showing me the lessons of my limitations. At the least it proves that the pseudo-skeps are not viable options in very hot climates and at the very least ought to be situated in a location on the edge of a wooded cluster or other sun break that allows for early morning exposure and dappled shade in the afternoon (the same situation that's often best for conventional hives). It also points directly to management practices concerning how long I can leave honey on the hive - The pseudo-skeps are best harvested at the onset of the following flow. Ultimately, the most valuable lesson in all this is patience; that only in the still, silent, and calm place can the mind devise a reasonable response to adversity in the apiary and never while under the cloud of frustration or in the heated rush of an emotionally charged reaction.
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