Thursday, 18 December 2008
The Beehive Dive
They're all dead, I didn't count them but over several weeks the 80,000 or so bees died. We watched them weakly walking around or trying to remove some invisible irritant from their bodies, and then they died. I watched them in the garden stumbling over flower heads, and drooping with exhaustion. We watched them pile up in front of the hive in the hundreds, then thousands, dead. Finally it was down to a few hundred or so surviving bees and the queen. But her reign was nearly over. A descent of healthy robber bees, and the few hundred died trying to protect the hive, from invasion. I saw the queen one more time clambering about on her own, no retinue of devoted followers. Then she too was just another corpse.
The reason - pesticides, somewhere within the surrounding 3km either forestry or Gunn's has aerial sprayed, or someone has had enough of the summer wasps and has doused them in Baygon, the kind of poison bees and wasps take back to their hives and which destroys them all, or it could be that the Cherry orchards thin their sprays with Carbryl, another death to bee treatment.
It was very sad. I've said it before, you can't throw a hive of bees a ball, you can't cuddle them, and they don't have big soppy eyes, but they are an entity of their own, and their demise was really very sad, and a crappy indictment on our poisonous lives.
The wax and honey left in the hive was pulled out and discarded due to pesticide residue which will continue to kill future bees, the frames have been boiled and scraped till all the wax is off and I've ordered a new queen. She arrived with four or five worker bees in a queen cage, a wooden cage with a candy plug that the bees eat their way out of. By the time they have done so the couple of frames of new bees and the accompanying workers I've been given by a local beekeeper will have become accustomed to her smell and will accept her as their own.
No honey this year, it will be a battle for the new hive to establish itself without me robbing them. Very disappointing, and the question now is, 'what say someone sprays, baits or poisons again and my bees happen to have their working party in that area of the woods on that day?'
Go home and spray - you'll never know, the hell where bees and colonies go.