Well, the hive of bees left in a swarm over Memorial Day and have not been seen since. I tried putting them back in their home twice to no avail. Seems the farm is not able to host what the bees need, and that’s good to know. They did start making comb, and the queen was laying brood. At first, it seemed to be a temperature problem so I set the hive back in the shade and propped open the top to let more air in. This is typical summer maintenance. I was also feeding the bees extra pollen and sugar to make up for the lack of abundant pollinator species around the property, to no avail.
After the swarm left, I was able to look at the inner building of my colony in depth, learning so much about what the bees were up to and how a hive is built from scratch. The bees are amazing constructors, engineering quite the comb in this hive. Some of the frames were wax, others plastic, and some just the wire to hold comb on. The bees used all three and built what they needed with what they had. Though it looks less cosmetic, this comb is functional and well crafted in spite of it’s wonky nature.
Some of the brood was still hatching out as young workers a few days after the swarm left, and I explained to them that I had no idea where their queen or sisters had gone, but I wished them luck. I’ve kept and eye out for the swarm, but no buzzing hails the hive home and I do not have high hopes. Honey bees are not native to Washington, and I’m not interested in attempting to bring them here again, personally. If another resident at the farm wishes to take up bee keeping and all that entails, I wish them luck.
As of now, Leafhopper Farm will continue to support other native pollinators like bumblebees and mason bees. We’ve build some habitat for our masons, and need to build some for the bumblebees, as many of them are threatened. The honey bees were a great learning experience, but the loss of this hive so soon gives me the feeling I should work on other things more aligned with nature in this bio-region. I am so thankful to the bees and their lessons, and I hope the queen and her swarm find a wild place to thrive nearby.