Hello all! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted. Something bad happened, and to be honest, I’ve been too bummed out to deal with blogging about it until now.
Depending on which news source you watch, you may have seen that we were hit by a Biblical Flood in mid December. Thankfully, our house is pretty high up a mountain so we were relatively unaffected, except for being trapped here for three days. In fact, we didn’t even lose electricity, because we run on solar power. Many of our neighbors didn’t fare so well; this guy down the road had some cleaning to do afterward, and the corner store was a huge mess. Most of our farmer friends did what farmers do- get the animals safe, and groan as fences get torn down and tractors float away.
At Nehalem River Ranch, the Nehalem River swallowed the Ranch. Farmer Jared sent me a text towards the end of the flood that said something cryptic like “sorry about your bees”. This is a text that make a beekeeper want to vomit. A few days later, when the roads were again passable, I drove down to the apiary located on his farm to check out the damage.
Here we see Jared, and the pile of hives he and Hilary were able to collect from their final resting places in the various hedges and logjams around their property. They said it wasn’t even the river that got them; a nearby creek exploded unexpectedly with a sudden gush of water and carried the whole apiary away. That creek is also very close to their house, so I’m glad it didn’t wreck that too. Their neighbor across the street was less fortunate; he lost an entire pole barn and all the equipment in it. It just “went away”. Jared was apologetic, and helped me load the hives into the truck to I could spend the weekend hosing mud and dead bees out of them, and store them for next season.
Frankly, I’m devastated. Those hives were my oldest, best ones. Each was just brimming with bees, and years worth of comb and honey stores. I estimate about a quarter of a million lives were lost in the event, too. Tiny lives, but lives that are important to me. One bright spot in all of this is that a single hive somehow survived. The flood waters picked it up, moved it around, and set back down on a different hive stand. Not believing, I opened it up and was greeted by a bunch of REALLY MAD bees. I slammed the lid closed in the half second of confusion before they realized they should be stinging my face, and literally jumped for joy. A survivor!
This all begs the question “what now?” I’ve been pondering it for a few weeks. Obviously, the Nehalem River apiary will not be giving me any useful data for the Cozy Bee Project. To make things worse, there have been hiccups with the data collection computer at the other site, so I still don’t have any usable data from the Foley Creek apiary either. ARGH!!!! I need to face the reality that the entire project is going to be set back a year. I’m sorry, everyone.
As far as my bees in general, I was planning on setting up my third apiary this year. Now it looks like I will be back to setting up my second apiary, all over again. Though, obviously, in a different place. I thought I’d escaped my brush with fate in November, but apparently it was not to be. The good news: I recovered most of the flooded hives. The bad news: I have to buy about $800 worth of package bees to replace those killed, do days of work setting up a new apiary, and lose a year or two of work on the part of the bees making comb and stores.