My mother-in-law, Carol, came up early to entertain Ava for the afternoon. Once I got dinner started (potato soup), I grabbed up my gear and hurried down to go see the bees.
Although I observe them from outside the hive often, the August heat and humidity prevented me from donning the full bee suit and going down to take a peek. My wasp sting scare set me back a little also. It took two more stings--bee and wasp--for me to discover that with enough Benadryl (about 4 doses of the liquid version), I can be sure that I won't have a crazy allergic reaction.
Prior to that I had just put on another super, experimenting with top bars. I found out later that the bars I used were too narrow and even with waxed guide strips they would not likely make nice comb. I expected that they would just go ahead and make freeform natural comb and I wasn't too worried about that since I had a queen excluder on. I figured I could still harvest it, even if it were a mess.
But I was not expecting this:
A completely empty super! Peeking down between the (horribly inadequate) top bars I saw nothing--nada--they didn't do anything upstairs. All that time, wasted.
The brown screen you see is the queen excluder. It keeps the queen from moving up and laying eggs in the honey super. Like I said, I was prepared to deal with freeform comb. I figured they'd just draw comb diagonally here and there, like they did with the lid when I had the mess to fix earlier this spring.
Ah well, I guess I am learning. At least they are still alive, haven't flown off and appear to be completely healthy! I'll do things differently next year.
Now this was something I was glad to see:
The inner cover was nice and clean. No ants this time!
My husband has come with me all the other times I have worked the bees. Today, with the day length getting shorter, I couldn't wait for him to come home and I worked them by myself. It was actually much more relaxing for me not to have to talk through it. I just took my time and enjoyed their buzzing company. No pressure. I worked off all the burr comb that I could see on the upper deep, pulled out a couple of frames to inspect and put everything back together. I'm going to leave that empty super on there just like it is. I will use it to accommodate a Ziploc bag sugar-water feeder with some terramycin in it when I go back to look at them next week.
I've got buckwheat sown in most of my garden plot right now and with all the rain we've had, I expect it will germinate soon. This is the first time I've planted buckwheat for a cover crop, but what I've read on it says that it should be in bloom 3 weeks after it emerges. It's a favorite food source for bees and will make for nice fall forage for them. I hope that with feeding them and adding on another super, maybe they'll put up some buckwheat honey. I will probably just leave it on there for winter, just to be sure they don't starve out; although what they have now should be enough. It's the same set up I wintered them on last year.
After my husband got home and we all had dinner, I left myself very little time to go out and look for mushrooms today. I got about a half hour to walk the tractor path back into the woods on my Dad's farm. I didn't find any mushrooms, but I didn't go home empty-handed. I found some big persimmons. Ava liked them and said they were like jelly. They taste better than they look.
There was also a very pretty sunset this evening as I was coming back across the hayfield.
It was a good, fairly productive day. :)