I have 30 fruit trees and a veggie garden in Massachusetts that desperately needed pollinators--in 2009, my trees all bloomed beautifully, but produced hardly any fruit. We have some local bumblebees, but clearly not enough. Started beekeeping spring 2010 with an Italian package in a Langstroth hive. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly with a great harvest in 2010: bushels of peaches and plums (I started the bees too late to catch the apple blossoms), plenty of veggies. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly until today, when I found a whole bunch of dead bees all over the orchard (maybe a hundred). Being new at this, I promptly freaked out, and found this place via Google--where thankfully a bunch of other wonderful people were asking the same question. It's a nice day here, 45F and sunny, so I popped open the hive roof expecting to see a bunch of dead bees or a smallish cluster, and instead found a freakin' HUGE cluster the size of a beach ball! They et up all the stores (3 full deeps I could barely lift, had to be 130 lbs. at least) and were right at the top. Putting on some food today, while the weather holds.
Seems like this is a great place to come for advice and opinions. Thanks ever so much for soothing my panic attack already!