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  • Writer's pictureNona Spillers

Honey Bee Heart Break: A frozen swarm

Updated: Jan 20

We talk about swarms a lot — the way a colony replicates itself — because those are usually the bees we rescue in the Spring.  Fall / winter swarms are unusual…but they do happen.

After three days of freezing temps, Texas gave us a 77 degree day so we went out to check on the bees.  Gratefully, all of our managed colonies seem to be doing well.

As we pulled up to the apiary in Kingsbury, we saw a truly unusual sight. A swarm cluster on the back of one of our boxes.  Texas’ hurky jerky weather confuses creatures large and small.  Who knows why this nice cluster of bees was in the open air. Especially when we have two swarm boxes very nearby!

This had to have happened JUST before the freezing temps because there is no comb built. As beautiful as this cluster of honey bees is - they are all dead.  They froze trying to keep their Queen warm. 

This is beekeeping - strange things happen and we’ll never know why. 

I had to sit a minute and wonder and feel sad.  But I’m learning that loss and unpredictability is part of farming.  I moved on to sit in gratitude for all the things that happened to make it possible for us to have bees the way we do.

My heart hurts for this lost cluster.  That pain will fuel my passion for the education we do about honey bees and habitat.  As ever, I ask what I am to learn from this moment?

There is a tradition of sharing with the bees when someone passes. So it seems fitting that we share with the bees fans news when some of them pass.

I feel it’s equally important that we share with our colonies how much people LOVE the results of their hard work.  As we inspect, I tell the bees about how much they amaze people. 

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