Those of you who have been with me for a while know I keep a hive of bees in my back garden.

Or, well, I used to.

Last February, my entire hive of lovely ladies died dead. This was such a well-behaved team of bees that it was beyond disappointing to one day realize there were no humming sounds coming from the hive and that I hadn’t seen anyone coming or going for a few days. Then, to open up the hive and see all their little corpses…

This pretty much sums up that day.

I tried to figure out what might have happened. I’d had my hive completely abandoned once (no corpses), which wasn’t a happy day, but at least I could hope my girls were off pollinating someone else’s flowers.

After speaking with a local beekeeping lady, she said if everything looked healthy within the hive (there’s a lot of really gross things that can go wrong, so I won’t go into detail just in case you’re eating), then the hive might have gotten wet. And if bees stay wet too long, they die.

The inside of my hive had been suspiciously moist. I might have found my murderer: the hive itself.

The hive in question was a top bar hive, which if you’re not familiar with this type of hive, basically looks like a xylophone with the “keys” being bars that the bees build comb on. There’s plenty of advantages to this type of hive, but one of the disadvantages is it can collect moisture.

No new bees showed up over the summer (I attract swarms of bees rather than buying them…yes, you can buy bees), but after doing research for an article on beekeeping I wrote for Horticulture Magazine and after seeing that local beekeeping lady’s hives, I was eager to try out a more traditional type of hive: the Langstroth.

So, after plenty of comparison shopping, I placed my order. And, after plenty of cursing, I got the *#%$* thing assembled. I then had fun with mixing up some pastel colors to decorate and protect the woodwork.

The result? Voila!!!

It’s like the Easter Bunny exploded all over my new hive!

And lets’ get a closer look at who dropped in to help show off the hive…

As you can see, Tammie Beastie is equipped to take good notes on any new arrivals…although since she’s bundled up in her Aran sweater, it might be a bit cold yet for any apiary activities.

The Langstroth hive not only provides a good beginner-level set up, but mine also features a sturdy roof covered in metal sheeting…my ladies are going to stay snug and dry this year. Assuming I can attract a swarm, that is.

Of course, that entire stack of boxes won’t go out just yet. I’ll start off with one big (deep) box, then add on as the season progresses. Again, assuming I can give some wandering bees a place to call home. If you happen across any, send them my way.

It looks so tiny now.

It’s been chilly out in the garden, but it’s actually been kind of nice being forced to go outside and get the hive set up, which has also motivated me to start in on some much needed garden tidying in anticipation for spring.

That’s it for now. Keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully an upcoming newsletter will feature the new residents!!

Sorry, couldn’t resist this one!

If you want to read more about my beekeeping adventures, then be sure check out these posts from my blog….

I Have Bees….Again

Bees Don’t Sweat

Well, Hello Ladies

Finn McSpool Minds His Beeswax



Hope you enjoyed this little detour from all the writing and history posts lately. But don’t enjoy it too much because I’ll be back next Wednesday with another bookish announcement. See you then!!!


Not ready to into the garden just yet? Then grab your copy of Domna: A Novel of Osteria to lose yourself in an epic tale of passion, ambition, and betrayal today.

The Complete Series of Domna includes all six parts of the serialized novel:



14 thoughts on “Just Add Bees…and Beasties

  1. Fingers crossed that your hive is discovered very soon. I am sure there is a swarm looking for such a stylish home! While i always have European honey bees foraging, I saw a native blue banded bee in my garden last week. They are solitary bees. I have seen them way north in the arid areas of New South Wales, so I am wondering if the drought there has forced them further south. Or maybe they are making a come back in inner city Melbourne. That would be nice.


    1. It’s bitter cold here right now, so it might be another couple months before any new residents move in. It seems that since I’ve been keeping bees, I’ve taken more notice of other bees in my garden. We have mason bee houses up in several spots – those bees look a little bit like flies, but they zip around like bees. Last year I saw a shiny green one that was gorgeous and I always love the bumblebees. My previous house had burrowing bees in the garden, but I haven’t been able to get any to show up here. Now I have to go look up blue-banded bees. Thanks for buzzing by (haha).


      1. It’s easy to think that all bees are honey bees. We don’t have bumble bees, so I was delighted to see some in England. Mason bees are a new species to me, so I will have to buzz off and check them out!


      2. It’s probably just my sweet tooth’s wish that all bees were some type of honey bee…what a wonderful world that would be (bee?)!! Unfortunately the mason bees aren’t very attractive and don’t make any honey, but they’re fun to watch.


  2. Oh so sorry about your hive. Of course you posted another hysterical meme once again! I hope Tammie Beastie can help with the success of the new hive! “Boo-Bees” – ha!


    1. I did a search for “honeybee memes” and that was one of the first ones that popped up…it was so immature I couldn’t resist!! Hopefully a new hive shows up in the next couple months. In the meantime, I think Tammie Beastie better find a beekeeping jacket so the bees don’t get stuck in her hair. Thanks for buzzing by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dad keeps hives like that but he just uses whatever color paint he has around! I hope you are able to attract a swarm.


    1. Thanks Laci!! The paint I used was some old white paint we had in the garage that I blended with some leftover craft paints to make the various colors, which not only cleared out some old paint, but made the painting project even more fun :))

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How heartbreaking re the mass bee death!!! I really hope this (beautifulllllly painted) new hive sorts out the moisture problem. With Tammie Beastie on the job, it surely can’t fail!


    1. I’m going to send her in with a mop if any moisture dares to enter that hive. And I did see a honeybee flying around the other day, so maybe, just maybe she’ll go tell all her friends about the fancy new digs.


    1. If none show up in the next couple months, I might need to run an ad on Craigslist letting all the bees in Portland know there’s a new place to rent.


      1. Ohhhh, are you sure? You never know what kind of weirdos you might end up with! Don’t come crying to me when they’re having all-night raves in the hive and cooking meth instead of making honey… 😂


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