Friday, July 29, 2011

Inspecting the Hives

Now that the turkeys are sort of squared away I thought I would check on the bees. I took a quick look in the first hive last week but I think I rushed things a little and the bees were not happy. This time I decided to take my time and give them a good smoking in the hopes that it would calm them down.

I packed my smoker with some tinder, sticks and green leaves to make lots of smoke.

I smoked both hives at the entrance and then cracked the tops and smoked in there too. I gave it a few minutes and then smoked them again. When they smell smoke they think there is a forest fire and they eat honey in case they have to evacuate. Once they are full on honey they are supposed to be sluggish and calm.

I opened the second hive first because they are mild compared to the first hive. They haven't gotten much done in the weeks that they've been in here. They are only occupying the three frames that we tied their old comb into at the cut out.

You can see here where they've attached the comb to the side and bottom of the frame.

Here is a piece of comb filled with brood. If you click on it to enlarge the photo you can see growing larvae in some of the open cells. They look like little creamy white crescents. All the brood is a good sign that the queen is laying. If there were more workers they might be able to build comb faster and give the queen more room to lay. It's the dearth right now though, which means that there is not much food out there for them. I'll try to set up a feeder for them this weekend made of sugar and water to see them through the lean time. It would probably still be a good idea to add more bees to this hive to strengthen it. I like that they are nice but I don't like that they are moving so slowly. The bigger and stronger they are the more successful they will be.

Which takes me to the first hive. When I checked on them last week I was concerned that they might be crowded and need more space. It turns out that they had only just started to fill one frame in the top box with comb. I took that box off the hive and set it aside so I could see into the bottom box.

At this point the bees where still pretty calm from the smoking. All of these frames are filled with comb.

When you look closer you can see that there is come bridging the frames which isn't ideal. It makes the frames difficult to extract and sticks everything together. I wanted to look at each frame to see if there was brood and honey and to see how the queen was laying.

As I pried one frame away from the others the bees started to buzz and become agitated. I struggled to pull the frame up and could see the comb start to rip. I stopped taking photos at that point because the bees started to pour out of the hive and surround me.

I love my new bee jacket because it is easy to put on and is nice and heavy but I was only wearing my dickies on the bottom. It turns out they aren't quite heavy enough to protect me from the stingers. You can see three stingers still sticking to my pants.

I thought that I only got stung a couple times but once I took a look it was more like 7 or 8.

I guess I should get a pair a bee pants if I'm going to be working with this aggressive hive. I don't really need to look in the hive too much unless it seems like there is a problem. Once a year I could harvest any excess honey and leave them alone the rest of the time. I guess I have a certain amount of curiosity about what is going on in there though. I think that the better I understand the bees the better steward I will be. That could just be the curiosity talking though.

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