|This is what I saw first....|
I woke up this morning in a timely manner and was really pleased to know that it was Friday. I like my Friday kids, but let's be honest and serious- the last few weeks of school are quite exhausting and challenging. In spite of the ridiculously cool weather, the children are not as focused as they might be. So I have been looking forward to Friday since Monday. Jeans day is always nice, and it was not too chilly this morning yet, and I was in a good mood.
After feeding the horse and getting my breakfast to take to school, I got myself into the car to leave. As I was driving out, I looked over at the new beehives to see an unbelievable sight. The whole thing was torn apart. Both hives were scattered all over the ground inside the not quite completed fence.... I slammed on the brakes and stopped to look. Disbelief flooded my body. I backed the car up a bit and then got out and sprinted to the house.... As I was on the deck I glanced over to the two hives by the garage- our beautiful tall hive there was down as well.
|The aftermath of the larger hive|
The MA was shaving and such, so he could not go outside at that point- but I walked over to the well caged- or so we thought- hives and could not believe what I saw. I grabbed a couple of quick photos then, and had to go to work. I felt like I had lost a member of the family. After a phone call to the office mid morning, I found out that the bear reached the railroad ties that raised the hives off the ground and tipped over the boxes. From there, it reached in and grabbed what it could. It wrecked quite a few frames- as apparently baby bees are a tasty treat. They tried to get in from all the sides- they ripped off the finer wire mesh pieces and tried to get under. The hives in the new location did not have the ceiling on it's cage, so the bear just climbed right in. No bees survived there but we think we may have saved our overwintered hive.
|The new location carnage|
Fred was able to scoop some of the bees- and hopefully the queen- into a box that he righted and placed out of reach in the center of the cage. We shall see I guess. When we cleaned up all the debris this evening, there were baby bees in the brood boxes. The hives were doing so well! Prime time for pollen and nectar is coming here soon, this is just so so sad. Hopefully we have one hive here and we will have the other over at our friend's house. Next year we will have an actual second cage ready to have the bees installed without having to work around them.
|What a mess. We cleaned this up tonight, found some honey in one of the combs, so they have some population, and food|
So, as silly as it seems in a way, this was a very sad thing. Besides the serious monetary loss on bees and frames, it is also the loss of living things that we had invested in with time and attention and now that I think of it - a lot of sugar! I always smile when I see one of the kids on a dandelion or feel momentarily bad when I find a drowned bee in the horse water. I have set up a place for the bees right by the horse water, and had had way fewer casualties. Does it make sense to mourn for an insect?
The whole incident has made me feel a little funny- like something terrible and violent has happened to me. I guess for the bees it was terrible and violent, but in the grander scheme of things, it isn't too horrid. I kept flipping between being so sad about it and then realizing over and over that they are only insects. We could theoretically buy a package or two of bees if they still have them in Rhinelander (we are not)- that this is nature. Is it the bears fault that they are hungry and looking for protein? Are the bears to blame for wiping out our little dudes when it is one of their natural foods? No we really can't I guess. Fred takes full blame (not that I was pointing fingers, I was too busy trying to talk myself out of crying over bees) for not finishing the cage, basically we should have been prepared. But the bees come a week after tax season is done, and it is just not great timing. But regardless, there really is no blame to be assigned- it is what it is.
It is in my nature to find some sort of good in this, and I am not sure what that would be other than the fact that I would miss having them if they were all gone. I found that learning about them and following their progress and watching for them around the yard was something that I love doing. As usual, being invested in something and finding joy in it reaps great (and sometimes tasty in the case of the honey) rewards. And as many of your know, the more you invest in something or someone emotionally, the loss of that thing also affects you more than you would like sometimes. But you seriously can't have that joy without the balance of the occasional pain of loss. Seriously, though, it is a good thing that I have calm people that surround me in my life to talk me down.
So, in answer to what are we going to do about the bears- not sure. Electric fence may do little to keep a determined bear out. The physical barrier offered by the super strong concrete reinforcing mesh stuff will work if they can't reach the hives. So that is still in the design stage. Thanks for all the super nice words on Facebook. I really appreciate the comments, as I really felt pretty sad this morning.
So until next time ( I have a post or two in me yet so stay tuned) find your joy in the little things..... even if they fly around.