June 14, 2014

So I guess I'm a beekeeper: And C-man is too

C-man and I both had the day off yesterday. I thought we were going to hang out at home, but C-man decided we were going to head to Coleman and make use of his new bee suit.

After he expertly used the smoker, we opened Beatrix II's hive. They hadn't drawn out much comb, but she was free from her queen cage (Hooray!) and laying eggs in the little comb her hive has made available to her. We saw her walking around, which was a nice lesson for C-man to be able to find the queen.

Then we moved on to Amelia's hive. The frames were really heavy with bees and pollen and honey. I couldn't see if there were any eggs in the areas where baby bees had emerged through my veil. We checked through each frame of the hive, spotting 3 different queen cells on 3 different frames. I don't know if the cells are to swarm, which I know is common in June, or if they are just being extra cautious, or if Amelia is gone. I removed the queen cells just in case, assuming Amelia is still in there, even though we couldn't spot her.

But then C-man decided he was getting anxious with all the bees (I thought it was impressive that he'd stuck it out through both hive inspections!), and wanted to let me finish up on my own. With him gone, I took off my veil to try to find Amelia and eggs, and whoa - Holy angry bees! They were flying at my face, trying to sting my hands, and being extremely cantankerous. (When Beerman texted to find out how the hives were, I replied, "Angry and stingy".) For the record, putting a full frame of bees back in the hive when dozens of bees are flying at your unveiled face is not simple! I did manage to throw the veil over my face, slam the bees back in the hive, and close it up without a real sting. (Two got my glove but not me). So much for thinking they are a nice hive - now that the baby bees are born, I think they have Amelia's aggressive nature!

So even though 2.5 frames are still completely untouched and undrawn out with comb, I decided that I'd add a second 8-frame brood box on top. This would be to make sure they feel there is enough space (to try to head off any swarming due to lack of space), and let me go two weeks between the next inspection. (After 3 visits in 7 days, I could use a break!) I left some sugar syrup in the top feeder on the top of both hives, as Beatrix II's hive has been eating it the past two weeks, and that it couldn't hurt with Amelia's hive to draw out more comb. (Conventional wisdom is it's 8 pounds of nectar to 1 pound of wax production, so they need all the help they can get with the wax building!)

As much as I love my bees, it'll be a nice break to take a week off next weekend. Here's hoping both hives will continue to do what they need to do in the meantime!

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