I’ve been a beekeeper for nearly 20 years, and I’ve never experienced such losses as I have this winter. At the end of the 2022 season, I had four healthy hives, but now I have only one – called “TRUTH”. Two of my strongest hives – JUBILEE (which was named in the Jubilee year of 2012 and flourished last year), and GRACE (which had been a very strong hive for the past three years) suddenly died off between February and March.
It’s been very disheartening to see my bees struggling to get through the winter and even more discouraging to hear about the losses experienced by other beekeepers. A friend of mine who has kept bees for 20 years and maintains over 100 hives lost half of his hives this winter and had 18 hives vandalised.
The loss of so many hives is devastating, not only for the beekeepers but also for the environment. I put it down to a very frosty, cold and wet winter and spring. I suppose it’s climate change in action. Whatever the reasons, it is making me do a radical re-think of how I can maintain and grow my colonies of bees in future years. I have to re-learn to split my remaining hive into two to ensure I have the resilience of two hives – a fundamental principle of small-scale beekeeping. Let’s hope the weather starts to get warmer and dryer in the next few months.