I checked the hives on the farm in late August. Four hives total Two hives were doing fine. One hive was weak and one hive was very strong. The strong hive had 2 supers full of capped honey, and they were making more. I wasn’t planning to extract, and I didn’t have the tools I needed at the time to extract anyway. I decided to give the girls another month to hopefully build up some more honey during the late Summer, early Fall flow. We went back in late September. It was heart breaking.
As I walked back to check on the bees, I didn’t see any activity in the strong hive. I had a sinking feeling as I smoked them and popped it open. No bees. The super was extremely light, and as I lifted it off, thick webbing stretched between it and the super below it. That exposed a handful of wax moth grubs. The next two supers were the ones that were full of honey less than a month ago. Now, they were empty. Wax moths don’t eat honey, but they do eat pollen and they destroy the wax cells. Every single frame in every super was infested. This caused the honey to leak out. It looks like one of the other hives collected some of it, but most of the honey was just gone.
The brood chamber was also destroyed. Not a single bee, dead or alive. When I checked them in August they had plenty of food, plenty of brood, a laying queen, and no sign of swarming. Within a month, the hive was gone. They must have swarmed or maybe just absconded, and once the hive was weakened, the wax moths quickly took over. I could have saved the honey, and maybe the hive, if I was able to check them more often. This is the risk of having hives 2.5 hours away.
The hives in Virginia Beach got a late start because of the rain, so we don’t have any honey there. Now the strongest hive in Amelia was destroyed. It was depressing. No honey to sell. I could empathize with the farmer in the Midwest desperately praying for rain. Sometimes the whims of nature turn against you and you are helpless to stop it.
I’ll do my best to prepare the hives for a good winter, and a strong Spring. Next year will be better!
Fortunately, I haven’t quit my day job.