Keeping bees is about constantly learning lessons and sometimes relearning the same lesson. This is my second year keeping my bees out in a field that is occasionally used as a grazing pasture for sheep. Last year when the sheep were put into the field by the sheep farmer they forgot to put an electric fence around the hives and some of the sheep rubbed up against the hives and jostled them a bit. No damage, just some of the boxes ajar. After contacting the farmer he put up an electric fence and all was well.
This year we should have known that the sheep would be back and therefore should have reached out to the farmer and reminded them to put up a fence. We found out too late the sheep were back and by the time we went out to the field all of the hives had been tipped over. We lost most of the hives to exposure and only two look like they might make it through the winter. The lesson is that we should have learned from the past and taken proactive measures to protect our hives from the sheep.
The same lessons can be applied to many of the other threats to our bees during the year. Checking your mite loads can be one of the best ways to help your bees make it through the winter and entire year. Checking their food supplies and supplemental feeding also dramatically increases the survival rates through winter. What lessons have you learned lately? Check out our beekeeping 101 section and brush up.