Death Trap

Despite the nightly freezing temperatures, the bees are still collecting pollen. From where? All the flowers outside are brown and shriveled, marking the end of summer. Yet, the warm days compell the bees out of their hive to find the last remains of summer pollen. They found it in our greenhouse.

At first I was quite amazed at their ability to discover the remaining flowers of the season: Basil. I could just taste the basil-sented honey over buttered toast.

The flame of awe was extinguished with the flame of death. The bees have immaculate skill at finding flowers, but finding their way back out of a greenhouse proved too difficult. How do they find their way? Why didn’t they just go out the way they come in? Why do they insist on bumping their head repeatedly against the wall of windows? Their actions remind me of moths that are directed by light. But if the whole greenhouse is lit up, why can’t they try another route?

I tried to coax them out, but many were left. Some with pollen on their legs, others bare-legged. I was affected by the death of the bees, with the same wave of sadness I felt when only three of our six ducks came home.

The farm is a constant cycle of life and death. I brought our goat Nacha to an Amish dairy goat farmer and had her bred to his Saanen billy. A four star billy, he said. If our “babies” (they’re not so little anymore!) are bred in December, we could increase our herd from 3 to 9 goats by the spring.


  1. Sasha

    Yes, bees don’t work well in greenhouses, that is a bad idea. They have problems navigating, that is the reason that bumblebees are used to pollinate greenhouses instead of honey bees. NIce to hear that you have bees there. Do you know that its possible to keep bees organically?
    Cheers, Sasha

  2. Brittany

    Thanks for the comment. Marcin has done most of the bee keeping so far, but as far as I know, we are raising them organically: lots of weeds and naturally grown vegetables to gather pollen and nectar from. We originally got Russian bees, which are suppose to be immune to mites which are apparently a problem in bees. However, that crop of bees arrived at the post office with half of the colony dead. Our current bees are a cut from a friend’s hive and are doing well, but have not made it one year yet. We fed them sugar water (we actually used organic sugar!) for the first month of their transition to a new home this spring.

    We didn’t really want the bees in our greenhouse, they just found their way in through the cracks. I am just so surprised that they are bad navigators whey they have the great wide world to navagate through to find their home. Why can’t they navigate a greenhouse I wonder?

    How does one keep bumble bees in a greenhouse? Do they need hives to live in? Do you have any resources on this (or natural bee keeping?)


  3. Sasha

    Brittany, bees are not bad navigators, they are master navigators. They can find flowers miles away from their home, and bring back their load of nectar and pollen. Their biology is just like that. They fly up toward sun, wasps and flies just fly randomly and because of that can find the way out. Bees will fly up toward sun, and get trarpped in a manmade environment…

    When I say organically I don’t mean giving them organic sugar. The BIG problem with bees last 10 years is varroa mite. It will destroy your colony fast and efficiently if you don’t make counter measures.
    Official :scientific” beekeeping will tell you this is impossible. They said this also for other areas of organic agriculture.
    But there is a small but dedicated group of organic beekeepers, which can be found here
    Small cell beekeeping, Dee Lusby is the person behind this. You can easily buy small cell foundation for your bees also small cell bees. Scientist say its not possible, those people say it is. Many of them keep bees without chemicals, and every conventional beekeeper will say you this is impossible.

    Best beekeeping site for me: Michael Bush
    best bee forum on the web plans for making hives article by Dee Lusby top bar hives

    this should be enough reading for now…

    Regarding bumble bees , yes they need some kind of hive, but its just s small box, they are different than bees. A search on bumblebees should give you some information although knowledge of growing bumblebees is a commercial secret…

    Cheers, Sasha
    who is worried for his bees…

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