Neither of my colonies made it through the extreme low temps and sogginess we had a few weeks ago. When I finally convinced myself that they were gone I went out and took apart the final hive. I found what I think is evidence of foul-brood. I can’t prove that it is foul-brood but more importantly, I can’t prove that it’s not.

Foul-brood is a fungus. The spores are almost impossible to destroy and it’s extremely contagious. Basically your bees just rot. Not enjoyable.

I set the hive boxes in the barn for awhile until yesterday when I finally convinced myself that they had to go on the burn pile. A part of me feels despair. I built those boxes. I built them out of scrap wood that would have gone to the landfill. It was my determination alone that brought them into being. Now I have to burn them.

I have a William James quote taped up in my cubicle at work:

Be willing to have it so. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.

I moved the boxes to the barn because I was not yet willing to have it so. I was still telling myself that it might not be foul-brood or that I might still be able to salvage my effort. But that was not true. And by refusing to acknowledge this reality I was blocking any chance of recovery. Now that I have settled into reality I can take action. I will burn the boxes and remove the main infection. I will use my weed burner to disinfect the hive stand. And I’ve already bought one Langstroth hive in preparation for the upcoming season.

Recovery is not without discomfort but it sure feels better than denial.




6 thoughts on “Tough

  1. My condolences. It is every beekeepers nightmare–not just the loss of bees (which we all take too personally), but the loss of the woodenware. For most of us, that woodenware is our biggest investment in beekeeping, either in time or money. And foulbrood carries that dark, apocalyptic feeling–only a purging destructive fire can set to rights. Congratulations on looking ahead.

    1. freethnkr1965

      Thanks AV. It was also a lesson in hive type. The Warre hives while inexpensive and simple are not conducive to frequent hive checks. On to the Langstroth we go!

      1. It’s a constant debate in my bee group. Langstroth, top bar, Warre. What’s best? I’m a Langstroth gal–when I was new (as if I still weren’t) I couldn’t see why I’d want to reinvent the wheel. Still, many of my colleagues are top bar–because they’re easy to build, and because you never have to lift heavy, full boxes of honey. (No, you get to lift heavy, individual, fragile combs.) I’m playing with the idea of doing one top bar this year, as an experiment. In my mind’s eye, I always say Warre as the high end–but maybe not!

      2. freethnkr1965

        I think that if I had built the boxes with windows it might have been better – easier to track progress but that starts defeating the economic/simplicity goal. When I was exploring different hive designs I realized that there are as many as there are beekeepers. And each keeper of course claims theirs is the best for the bees. I figure now that if bees can live in everything from abandoned tires to wall cavities it’s probably okay for me to pick the hive that is most convenient for me.

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