The Good and the Bad

First, the good.

We’ve added another kid to the herd, and she’s a beauty.

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The weather has been spectacular. It’s a gorgeous time of year here.

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Now, the bad.

Yellowjackets invaded our honeybee hive, ate all the brood and killed or ran off our bees.

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This is not only sad, but terribly disappointing. After all the trouble we’ve had keeping bees the past few years we finally had a strong healthy hive. We extracted awesome honey just a couple of weeks ago.

Doubly frustrating is how ecologically inefficient this is. Only the yellowjacket queen survives the winter. All those robbing murdering yellowjackets will soon be dead, and the bees they killed would’ve survived the winter. Sigh.

At this point I doubt we’ll try bees again.

To end on a positive note, our gardens are still flush with veggies and, with or without honeybees, our cup is running over.

 

 

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44 comments on “The Good and the Bad

  1. barnraised says:

    Baby goats! 💙 We just bred one of ours so we’re looking forward to the spring cuteness! So sorry about your bees, that is so frustrating. Isn’t it always something with this farming life? 😕

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  2. Awww so sorry Bill to read about your loss of Bees my friend, So very frustrating and I can see why when you go through all of that, then the hive is killed by these invaders.
    On a lighter note your new Kid is beautiful and It looks like Fall is looking magnificent in all her colours too.
    Enjoy your weekend and again sorry for the loss of your hives..

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks Sue. We’ve lost bees for other reasons, but never had yellowjackets kill them all like this. Very frustrating. But overall all is well. It’s been a very mild fall and I’m hoping winter will be kind to us as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So very sorry to hear about the honey bees and those dratted yellowjackets. )I know we’re supposed to love God’s creatures, but I don’t love yellowjackets, deer flies or mosquitoes.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Bill, the death of the bees much be both sad and frustrating. All that work and the attachment also to bees who give so generously to us. I’m glad the kid makes up a little for the tragedy. Peace.

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  5. Joanna says:

    Oh Bill! The ups and the downs of the farm. Love the cute kid though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not even going to read the post before asking when you lost your bees… Condolences!!

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  7. Leslie McConachie says:

    Please don’t give up on your bees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      We’d have to start over again from scratch, as we’ve had to do twice already. I think I’m just going to leave beekeeping to those better at it than I am.

      Like

  8. Those little goats are the cutest!
    Loss of bees is deeply saddening. I’m glad though you have the honey as a bittersweet memento.

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    • Bill says:

      Yes we’re very fortunate to have extracted the honey before the attack. I rescued a couple more frames afterwards. The honey we have will last us for many years.

      Like

  9. Laurie Graves says:

    That is bad! Sigh.

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  10. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I did not know that yellow jackets would kill bees. Do they eat the honey if it’s there? Are yellow jackets the same as hornets? It’s really sad that they can wreak total destruction on a bee hive to only then a short time later die them selves. Nature is very harsh at times. Going against nature is a never ending fight. In the end nature eventually wins. When I can’t make it out to Terra Nova Gardens any more in a matter of a short year or two it will look as if I was never there.In the grand scheme of nature I am but a very short irritation and nature will patiently wait to reclaim the land. Big time disappointments have happened at Terra Nova Gardens through out the six years that I’ve gardened there. I don’t plan on giving in until my physical health won’t allow it any more. I’m hoping for another good 10 years maybe more if I’m blessed with good health.

    The kids are always cute. They sure do look like their daddy.

    Have the best day that you can. I kind of miss the posts that always made me think in the early part of the day.

    Nebraska Dave

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    • Bill says:

      Yes, they eat the honey. But they also eat the brood (bee eggs and larvae). They’re vicious. It seems so wasteful under the circumstances.

      I’ve really been thrown off my blogging routine lately. Trying to concentrate on finishing my book project. Getting close…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. shoreacres says:

    I didn’t realize what a problem yellowjackets are for bee keepers. I’m sure you know all this, but I found this article fascinating: especially the tips on keeping the yellowjackets at bay.

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    • Hi Lynda, I have (an inherited; ) theory about bees being bred for “gentleness”; with hives so calm you can work on them in shorts & a tee – some without even the most basic protection of a veil…
      In the beginning most of ours were acquired from elderly keepers in the process of downsizing, or by capturing “free” swarms. Dad felt (a belief most likely passed from the amazing old fellas who mentored him: ) that bee hives with a little aggression were stronger overall; more pest & disease-resistant and better honey producers; with the drive to survive year-round, through thick and thin… Taking the precaution of “suiting up” and firing up the smoker to go work in the bee yard was simply a good trade off for working with feisty, old-lineage honeybees; )

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    • Bill says:

      Yes, I should have reduced the hive entrance, so I’m partly to blame. We’d never had any problem with this before so I wasn’t aware of the need to protect them. A hard lesson learned.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres says:

        We all learn lessons of one sort or another. I still remember the year I learned that if one part of a two-part epoxy doesn’t look quite right, for gosh sakes don’t mix them together and put the stuff on a boat’s cabin sole. If you do, when it doesn’t cure, you’ll spend entirely too much time scrubbing off uncured epoxy with solvent. It only takes once to learn that lesson.

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  12. avwalters says:

    Don’t give up! We’ve solved our yellow jacket problem by setting pheromone traps, early in the season, and then keeping the pheromone fresh (changing every 3 weeks to a month), all season. You need to start early, so as to catch the queens, before they build up hives. The upside isn’t just protecting your bees, ultimately your living area is yellow jacket free, a relief for a lot of reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      It isn’t just the yellow jackets. It’s also varroa mites, hive beetles, wax moths, ants, CCD, winter starvation, etc. When we started keeping bees it was the easiest thing we did on the farm. All I had to do was collect the honey once or twice a year. We never medicated or fed them. Now they’re just too darn hard to keep alive. There are some first-rate beekeepers in our community, so I think I’ll just leave the beekeeping to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Bill, some of the pests you mentioned are newly introduced, invasive species; but Honey Bees have always had to deal with a laundry list of parasites but colonies which are strong and healthy have managed to thrive in spite of them and, given time, things eventually balance out.

        NeoNics are another story altogether. This is chemical warfare on a grand scale and pollinating insects are the innocent casualties, but really only the first level. While Manufacturers have done testing on determination of “single exposure, lethal dosage”, what hasn’t been mentioned is the cumulative effect of smaller NON-lethal amounts…

        We happen to know that honey bees are being affected, but only because Beekeepers are watching; this is NOT pollinators’ fault and “CCD” is simply evidence of the wholesale slaughter of insects which have acquired lethal dose levels. It is truly horrible to watch piles of bees laying at the hive entrance, twitching as they die, but there’s a LOT more going on than that!

        NeoNics are Systemic Insecticides which means that whatever they’re applied to becomes toxic. In the case of seed-coatings it means that every part of the plant grown from that seed is also toxic; from top to bottom; from seed to root, stem, leaves, flower, nectar, pollen, developing seed and fruit.

        NeoNics are supposedly safe because they’re biodegraded by sunlight. Beehives have zero sunshine inside and (up here at least) farm fields which are covered by snow a good portion of the year are not exposed to sunlight either so these toxins are building up both in the soil to affect subsequent plants growing there and in the hive (the bees, the wax, the honey).

        Consider also: The Monarch and other butterfly species with numbers in severe decline (dare I say collapse!)
        The “mystery” of disappearing Swallows (and other insect-eating birds).
        Little Brown Bats with a mysterious fungal disease dying off by the thousands (also insect eaters).
        What other insect-eating species are being affected that we just haven’t noticed yet?

        Oh wait, did I mention that NeoNics are highly water soluble and amphibious insects, frogs, fish and on up the line are also suffering population losses?

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  13. karenhumpage says:

    Don’t give up on the bees Bill, it must be very upsetting but that’s nature for you. It would be a shame to waste the last few years’ knowledge and skills gained over this incident.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      There’s also all the equipment cost that we’ve invested. But I’ll find a good home for the stuff. When I first started this lifestyle I wanted to do everything. I’ve learned that isn’t practical or optimal. We’ll still have plenty on our hands without having to tend to bees.

      Like

  14. Leslie McConachie says:

    Super interesting article!

    Like

  15. Melonie K. says:

    UGH – I am so sorry about your bees. That is just devastating. I really do try to live and let live, but after yellow jackets stung our dog at our old house, twice, for literally no reason (she was asleep on the porch near their flight path to their nearby nest – it was time for the exterminator. That’s when I learned what you shared here about only the queens making it through winter. The exterminator explained it when I said that I hate to kill pollinators, but something has to give – I felt less guilty when he explain what predatory meanies they are.

    My kids call them “meat bees”….. if nothing else, hearing that said is good for a giggle. Unless they are setting their sights on you. No giggling then. 😉

    The new kid IS adorable, and what a blessing your garden is. Best wishes for you and yours as we head into the holidays!

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    • Bill says:

      They are nasty creatures, and I’ve gotten into a nest a few times, but this is the worst episode we’ve had with them. When I find a nest that is in a dangerous spot, I eliminate it.

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  16. Oh man…the ebb and flow! What a gorgeous baby girl you’ve got there! And yes, what a heartbreak it is to lose a hive. We lost ours a few years ago and haven’t yet jumped back in. The sadness was tangible and it surprised me. There is such hope in farming, in every little thing we do, and sometimes the weight can be a bit much. And yet, there are still the veggies to celebrate, and baby goats, and the promise of tomorrow, next week, next year. Balance in all things.

    Like

  17. Zambian Lady says:

    The kid is so cute. I am sorry to read about your bees.

    Like

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