Last week I was informed by a farmer that one of my hives at an orchard had been blown over. We’d had some particularly strong and bitter winds the previous night and although I’d checked all my other colonies, I had neglected to travel further afield to check on this ‘wilder’ hive.
This colony was a swarm that had moved into an empty warre/ Langstroff hive I’d been given with a small weak colony several years ago. I’d placed it empty in the orchard that Greg had planted in January and a swarm moved straight in within a couple of weeks of us putting it there in May. When I last checked in October they were doing well, with plenty of stores and no signs of varroa.
On the phone call, the farmer said he’d put it back together again but I naturally rushed over in the closing light of Saturday to check it out. When I got there I was devastated to see that the Warre hive with a Langstrof outer box, WBC style, had been completely blown over , including the stand, and the two inner warre boxes were placed on top of each other next to the outer ‘lifts’. I didn’t stop to take photos, but as quickly as I could, re assembled the base, entrance, adapted crown board that positioned the warre boxes and placed them back on the stand. As I stood back before replacing the lid, I noticed an unusual pitch of buzzing. I had lifted the two warre boxes together, seeing a lot of comb in the lower one and didn’t want to expose them to anymore cold than necessary. Anyway, the buzz was worrying me so I removed the top box, empty of comb and looked into the lower one.
I was then horrified to see that the lower box was upside down! The poor girls had been hanging upside down from their comb since the wind had blown over the hive or when the farmer moved the boxes!
I apologised to them and quickly reverted the box so that the bars were on the top. and covered it with the canvas cloth I found still attached by propolis realising that I didn’t now need to replace the second, empty box. Their comb was hanging below the box and into the Langstroff cavity of the entrance lift. Their buzz returned to a familiar content one and so I replaced the remaining Lifts and the insulated roof. I then strapped the hive to the stand, happier that it was now shorter and more secure.
With the temperatures so low and such a bitter wind I was delighted that these bees had survived what must have been a terrifying ordeal for them and still had a healthy supply of honey in their stores.