First off, some sad news. The bees are gone. They were doing so wonderfully; they had filled three boxes full of comb, and had converted most of it to honey. The queen was clearly active; I could not belive how many bees were in that hive.
Incredibly, though, the hive went from bustling with bees to empty overnight. They did not swarm; there was no sign of any queen cells. I just went out to check on them, and all but a handful of bees were gone. It sounds like Colony Collapse Disorder. Honeybees are now on the official endangered list, and I fully believe it’s because of how we are poisoning our world with pesticides and herbicides. Every time I’m in the store, and I see someone buying a container of Roundup, I just feel so helpless and frustrated. Those ways of dealing with problems don’t work. The natural ways are so much better, and easier.
So now I have an empty hive. The only bright spot is that I now have an entire shelf of my freezer full of comb honey.
But in happier news, I have a bit of a Thanksgiving miracle to share. Yesterday, one of my snowflake bobwhite quails managed to escape the cage. She flew a considerable distance, into a nearby field that is densely overgrown with wild blackberries. If you’re familiar with the stickery, vindictive tangle that is a blackberry thicket, you’ll understand how certain I was that she was lost forever. After attempting and failing miserably at catching her, we gave up, bloodied and sore.
It was particularly sad, because she was my one remaining snowflake female, Bellatrix, who I was hoping to breed from next year.
The only hope I had was that she’d return home on her own. Her mate and her white bobwhite buddies were calling for her, and I could hear her answering. This morning, Thanksgiving morning, I went outside, and looked around, but didn’t see or hear her. It was just crossing my mind that she may not have even survived the night out there alone, when I heard this low bobwhite call, and she came sauntering out from underneath one of my garden plants!
I grabbed the net, and with my mother’s help, managed to corral and net her and return her to the pen. I think the quails were happy to be reunited. They gathered together, and talked in their little trilling voices, discussing her adventures. I was a little afraid she’d enjoyed her time in the wild, and was gathering together a revolt: “Next time the human opens the pen, everyone fly at her face! We can escape and live together in the blackberries! FREEDOM!!!!” But fortunately, when I opened the door the next time to scatter seed for them, all the quail except for her came running up to eat. Bellatrix went running away to hide in her nestbox, and wouldn’t come out to eat until the scary door to the outside was closed and locked. I guess she’s had enough freedom!
Hi Alisa – I know this post is a bit old but hope you still can answer. I’ve recently had some bees take up residence in my turtle house and was thinking of giving them something of their own. I love the hive you picked and for all the reasons you’ve stated in your blog. I was wondering if after all this time, would still go for the same hive? – Beth
Hi Beth! Yes, I would. I do believe the Warre hive is the best American hive for the bees. There are better hives for the biggest production of honey, but as my reasons for keeping bees have far more to do with the bees themselves, rather than forcing them to produce unnatural amounts of honey, I’m ok with that. ☺ If I were getting a second hive, though, I’d check into the British octagonal hive. The shape seems to be one bees prefer, as it mimics the shape of a tree. I don’t know if it’s available in the States, though. I like the sound of the Sun Hive too…but again, not sure of the availability. Hope this helps, and good luck with your bees. I wish a feral swarm of bees would come move in at my place!
Thank you. I love that the bees picked my garden. I’d even leave them “as is” since I’m happy just to have hard workers in my garden but at some point they will interfere with my turtle getting in/out of his house. Probably wonder why not just move the turtle? He hates having his home moved, even by a few inches, so not sure he’d like giving up his old home. I’ll look into the two hives you mentioned. Love your garden and thank you for writing your blog.