So it was a warm day in February that I got to check in on the bees Matt and I started raising last spring. I wasn’t hopeful. I couldn’t hear them buzzing and the hive had gotten really small when I last looked at them in October. But you never know.

I took the cover off the hive and was surprised to find almost nothing—maybe a hundred dead bees. So where did all the bees go? They didn’t survive, but I assumed there would be thousands of dead bees at the bottom.

Turns out, like many animals, bees will often leave their home to die. I felt bad like I hadn’t cared for the bees enough. Our friend Craig who has been guiding us through the process came to offer his advice. He thought it might have been a couple of things. We may not have fed them enough. We are supposed to feed them sugar water, which we did, but not nearly as often as we should have it turns out. We fed weekly when we should really be feeding every other day. There are scratch marks on the hive, which could be the signs of a skunk. Turns out skunks will wait outside of hives and eat bees as they come out. The stingers have no effect. The hive could have turned on the queen and killed her since she was laying eggs and maintaining the hive improperly. This could have been because of our lack of feeding or they could have had a disease. Bees will not defecate in their home so when you first get them they usually go to the bathroom because they didn’t during travel. Our bees seemed to have excessive diarrhea (who knew a bee could have this problem) and that might have been a sign that they arrived sick.

So with a LITTLE more knowledge, we are going to try again. Our new bees should arrive in May. I’m excited again and look forward to doing a better job this time.