I'd like to tell you beekeeping is easy. But that is simply not true. There are too many things that can (and will) go wrong while keeping bees. I already knew my lotus hive wasn't going to make it through the winter. They went queen less mid-summer and failed to produce a new queen. I could (and probably should) have ordered a new queen for the hive. Alas I did not requeen and now there is only a small cluster of bees present with no brood.
The dragonfly hive also had problems. It had a heavy varroa mite infestation. I've tried my best to be a natural beekeeper (this means leaving the bees alone and letting them do their thing). However I knew if I left the hive as it was the bees would die. So I decided to treat for mites.
I used a natural but harsh product called Mite Away Quick Strips(MAQS). The bees apparently did not like the treatment and absconded(i.e. they took their honey and abandoned the hive). Argh! I treated one other hive with the MAQS and, quite frankly, I'm a little nervous to go see whether or not the bees are still there.
At this point that means three of eight hives have failed which is pretty darn close to the average failure rate of 33%; not good statistics for the survival of the honey bee.
Of course I'm not giving up. I took this opportunity to relocate the hives back on our property (they were previously in the empty lot next door). Next spring I'll repopulate the hives and have another go.
Here's hoping my remaining hives stay sturdy and strong through the winter.