Today I visited my apiary and was shocked by the sight of one of my hives (no. 2) in its death throes.
The bees had starved.
When I tipped the hive up, a heap of bees came rolling out. Tens of thousands of them. In amongst the pile were some bees which were still alive, but barely able to move, they were so hungry.
And the situation was completely my fault. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been so concerned with problems surrounding the extraction of my honey, followed by a European Foulbrood scare (I have been given the all-clear) that I forgot to check if bees had enough food.
The period from June to August is known as the “hungry gap” because there aren’t many plants in flower, so you must check to see if your bees need fed.
I didn’t, and I feel truly awful about it. That hive was actually the one with the best-natured bees, and the only one where I saw the queen every time I looked in. It was also the hive with which I carried out my first artificial swarm. I’m sad to see it go.