Blown Away

Etlan Hives blown over

Friday night a weather phenomenon called a derecho, a straight-line windstorm associated with fast-moving thunderstorms, happened in our neck of the woods. Of course blown over trees was the most common casualty from the windstorm, but not the only casualty. We had a strong hive with 3 honey supers and a smaller hive that was no match for 70+ mph sustained winds in our out-yard. We’ve had this out-yard in Etlan, VA, on Rt 231, better known as the Backfield Farm, for about 3 years.  Robin, Ms. Backfield Farm, stopped by to tell us that two of the four hives had been blown over and the bees were NOT happy. Since it’s been hovering in the upper 90⁰’s for the last week or so, we decided to wait until the morning when it was cooler, because we would have to put on all our beekeeping suits. And suit up we did! Since we knew the bees were not going to be playing nice I put on long underwear (tops & bottoms!) under my jacket/veil and jeans, 2 pair of surgical gloves under my regular beekeeping gloves, and duct-taped our pants legs over high-topped boots – I was going to do everything I could to keep from getting stung!

The two hives were toppled on the ground, but mostly intact. The largest hive had 2 medium and one deep brood super, along with 3 honey supers that were capped and ready for harvest. The first task was to right the hive stands and make sure they were level. Unfortunately the commercially bought stand suffered some damage and was ruined and had to be replaced, but the homemade stand was o.k. (is there a lesson here???) After that it was a matter of the heavy lifting, which is why I brought Ralph. He managed to pick up a deep and medium super all together and place them back on the hive stand. The second hive was one I started in May from a queen cell and it was doing great until now. I had big plans for that hive next year if it survived the winter.

After all the brood supers were back in place, we turned our attention to the honey supers. I was afraid that there might have been some robbing (bees taking the honey they had stored in the comb), but as I pried the honey supers apart I was relieved – and thrilled – to see that the honey frames were undamaged and the honey ready for harvest.  In fact, Ralph and I both agreed it might have been the easiest time we’ve ever had harvesting honey from the hives – just pick it up off the ground. There was no fighting the bees while taking the honey off the hives and no stings.

Only time will tell if the two hives made it o.k. I’ll go back and check in a week to see if the queens are still healthy and laying.

Let’s see, so far this year we have survived a bear in the home apiary and now a derecho….and it’s only July 1st.

One Response to Blown Away

  1. Thanks for sharing. I was trying to imagine what it would be like if our hives toppled. Sounds like you managed very well! I hope they pull through and live to produce an abundance!


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