This is the story of Hive Seven. It was a lovely beehive. The queen was amazing and her daughters were very smart. I got the box of bees about three years ago. As I posted before, I drove to an apiary an hour or so’s drive Austin to pick up the queen and her starter brood. The queen that came with the box died early. But, as bees do, the workers created a new queen. She found drones to join with and voila, I had a working hive of tens of thousands of bees.
Flash forward a couple of years and I’m doing my first honey pull and everything seems fine. My queen is producing a lot of bees and the hive is rocking. Then one morning I go out and my bees are being robbed, and I mean ROBBED in all capital letters. It’s a full on invasion.
I do what every book and website says to do: throw on a sheet and wet it down. Then I filled all entrances and holes with grass and shut down the front entrance to one bee’s size. I even spread vicks vapor rub around the entrance holes to keep the robbers from smelling the entrance (the theory being that the invaders can’t smell where to go, but the bees who live there already know their own hive).
My partner even pulled out the shop vac, and with a clever use of garden stakes, started sucking up the invading forces (they tend to hover). The theory being that attrition of the invaders would help the hive defend itself and make the cost of the invaders high enough they would stop or risk weakening their own hive.
Alas, it was no good. The invaders had stolen all the honey (I didn’t catch them early enough) and had killed enough of my bees they couldn’t make a new queen fast enough to make up the loss of numbers. When I opened my hive (after deciding it was a done deal, so as not to expose them or weaken them further), the lower brood boxes were a mess of beetle larva and hive moth larva eating the wax and making a mess.
There was only one thing to do at that point, take the hive apart, salvage what I could and burn the rest. I gave my hive’s frames (the wooden slots that hold wax and honey) that had moth and beetle infestation a flaming send off, and I salvaged still useable wax to give a friend to make soap. Then I put the boxes and the rest out in the sun to kill off any more larva.
The rival hive that stole honey came to clean off and take away propolis left on the frames and boxes and lids. They were more than welcome to it as I hold them no ill will, they were only doing what bees do, a hive perceived as weak is fair game for a robbing invasion. Better that someone make use of the gooey glue bees use to keep the hive free from germs, small bugs and sealing small cracks.
There you have it, the bee wars, as I call it. It happens even among neighboring hives at the apiaries, not just wild hives from the forest. While this is devastating to me, I loved my queen and her girls, I’m looking at buying the newest version of what’s called a Flow Hive. And that will make harvesting honey easier for me and my girls. I do a blog post about that in the future after I’ve been able to give mine a whirl.