5 years ago (I think), we received an email from a gentleman North of Kingston requesting that we place a hive in his yard. The previous year had been so bad for pollinators in his area that Tim hand-pollinated his 20mx40m vegetable garden. Hand-pollinated it. Yeah.
Out we went with a top-bar hive. Found a nice spot for it and installed a package from the only Buckfast breeder in Eastern Ontario. They did their thing and built comb like crazy. At the end of the year, they had 3/4 of the hive built out and more than enough honey for winter. They didn’t make it.
So, we installed a split from another hive. They raised a queen, but she disappeared. We brought some fresh eggs from another hive for them. They raised another queen and she disappeared. Are you seeing the pattern? We brought more fresh eggs, they raised a queen and she successfully mated! The family’s yard backs on to a marshy area, and there were a lot of dragonflies that year. The theory is that the dragonflies couldn’t pass up a nice juicy queen bee on a mating flight and they never made it back to the hive. They looked great going into winter, but they didn’t make it either.
Cue the success: we installed a package of bees from a lady up near Westport. Debbie Hutchings’ family has been keeping bees in the same area for 200 years. They’ve been working with descendants of the bees that her great-great-grandfather originally brought with him from England. They’re wonderful bees: nice and calm, they make lots of honey, they winter on small clusters. Heck, Debbie claimed that they fly in the rain and I put that down to bragging. Nope. They do. It’s the weirdest thing to see. 🙂
That hive has been through two winters without a hitch now. Well, other than some incredible cross-comb, but the ladies and I are talking about that. 😉
Yesterday, on the way home from work, I stopped in for a quick check to see how they’re doing.
Great doesn’t begin to cover it: one of our hives is 36″ long and holds 22 bars. They’re working the 17th bar and it’s stuffed with bees now. Stuffed.
They’re getting split today as well. Unfortunately, I only have one tbh nuc. So, one split now and maybe another after the move into a full hive. We’ll see.
Stay tuned: film at 11. 😀