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.


dale said...

Hi Linda,

Sorry to hear of the beehive demise. It must be difficult knowing that you have no control over their daily adventures.
On hopefully a brighter note, have you got a roof on your homestead for Christmas ? It would be great to see Trev, standing on the roof, downing a well earned beer.

Cheers Dale

Deanna said...

Commiserations. I found the news terribly sad after reading with great interest your venture into bee-keeping.

Wishing you a fine Christmas and wonderful New Year in spite.

rdtj04 said...

I was wanting to get bees on our property for spring next year but don't know if I will bother now.... Our new next door neighbour loves to spray anything and everything with the deadly stuff that has been outlawed decades ago. He is in his 70's. No changing his mind either unfortunately. I hope you have better luck with your next hive. Merry Christmas wishes to you and your family.

Cheers Damaris, Maryvale, Qld.

US Recall News said...

This really pisses me off. I wish I had the money to just buy an island or a few hundred acres so I would have a little buffer room from the stupidity of others.

Anonymous said...

The people reading your blog are the least likely to be spraying chemicals willy-nilly, just the most likely to feel sad with the situation. Happy Holidays :)

emma - theberrypatch said...

I have just found your blog and I had to comment on the first post I read. I am sorry to hear about your bees - I can imaginge how sad and angry you must be.

Spraying is an automatic solution without any thought to the repercussions. I have a small veggie patch and I am amazed that when I talk about the problems I have with grubs and such, 90% of people tell me about a pesticide I 'should' use.

Out of sight, out of mind. Very sad.


annette hughes said...

I was only just contemplating a bee hive the other day. I've always wanted to keep them but my father in law was allergic to them. He has died now, so I can get bees, but I fear we live too close to chemical heads where we are. Don't link I could bear to lose them like that. I think the reason we love bees above other insects is that they are furry, like mammals.

Very sad story.

daharja said...

To say this sucks is an understatement. I'm really, really sorry for you.

We're thinking of keeping bees once we (finally) find a suitable property to buy, but now you have me worried. We're looking at buying close into a small city (150,000 people) - would our bees stand a chance? And even if they did, would the honey be safe to eat?

Makes you wonder about where the honey we currently eat comes from (it's reasonably locally produced, but I don't know much about it beyond that) and what the pesticide content is. Is honey even safe to eat at all these days?

Food for thought indeed.

In the meanwhile, I wish you a lot of luck with your new bees. I hope they do better, and avoid the nasties.

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