We had two strong hives going into the fall, we had taken off the last of the honey supers in early October and we were getting into our fall management groove. The first week of November we started giving them some food to help get their stores up for winter and everything still looked good in both hives. The following week, the bees were gone. Just gone. I was devastated. Instead of mixing sugar syrup and delivering pollen patties I would be spending my "bee time" cleaning up our empty hives and storing them for winter.
As a beekeeper whose been in the game a little while I can tell you that we are always stressing proper equipment storage methods to new-bees. Because if you don't store your equipment properly it's almost 100% guaranteed to get ruined. Wax moths and mice are the top culprits. I know this. So why didn't I store my equipment properly? At first I was so disheartened by the loss of our hives, I put them in the garage and thought "I'll deal with that later.". Then I got lazy and "later" never came. Until today.
I knew what I was going to find and I knew it was going to be painful. But with new bees due to arrive on April 8th, I couldn't put it off any longer. I had to know how bad it was. I had to know what I could salvage and what I would need to replace. It was a mess. Thankfully, the damage was more mice than wax moth, and I was able to save a few frames. But I feel like such a jerk! The bees work so hard to draw out that comb and I just abandoned it in my garage when the bees abandoned me. (That last part may be a little over the top.)
Long story short: Don't BEE lazy! Take care of your equipment!
Aristaeus forgive me, I have sinned. Have mercy on me. Guide my hand in my hives and help me do your will.