I am so thankful that the rain held off today. I was getting very antsy to go take a peek at what they had been up to over the past week since I hived the new swarm. The weather was not too bad when I worked them this evening around 6pm, but in that full bee suit, I still get very hot and sweaty. This was one of the most relaxing and intriguing excursions I've had working the bees. I am really starting to feel confident and competent around them!
It's a common misconception that honey bees are aggressive. They truly are not. Their policy is: don't bother us and we won't bother you! Different hives may display different degrees of temperament though. With a docile hive as mine have been, even when you do irritate them a bit, they still have a rather mild response. I can walk ten feet away and they have already forgotten about me.
The new swarm was very calm and quiet, as if they didn't even know I was there. It was a lot of fun to work them. The old hive however, being queenless and bugged by some ants that were trying to move in, did take note of my pestering them and they were quite a bit testy. But like I said, they give up very quickly.
Here's a few highlights from this inspection:
|This has been the new swarm's temporary arrangements. I ran out of cinder blocks and I've |
been a little nervous with them sitting on this milk crate. It's not quite as sturdy as I'd like.
|This is a really small colony. They've not accomplished a whole lot in the past 11 days since I installed them.|
|I had to carefully remove the wild combs they had built so that the two remaining frames could go in.|
(You leave the gap initially because you need a hole to dump them into.)
|This is the frame of honey I gave them from my other hive to get them started. Most |
of the bees are on this frame. They've been busy! The capped cells are full of honey.
|I had no trouble finding the queen this time, since I only had one and a half frames to check out.|
|She's doing a great job and laying a tight pattern. I found lots |
of capped brood, all stages of white larvae and many tiny eggs.
|I wasn't sure what to do with these odd combs at first. Fortunately I took a closer look and |
was able to spot a bunch of minuscule eggs in most of the cells on just one side of both of them.
|So I had to do a little quick improv! I used my hive tool to cut out a space in this new foundation.|
|And being careful to orient them the same way I found them originally, I patched them into this frame.|
|They had only begun working one side on one of the adjacent new frames in |
their box. This frame is beginning to fill up with honey and stored pollen.
|Frames 5, 6 and 7 are the only frames that have any activity at this point.|
|The ants go marching two by two... These ants have been pestering |
them this week, trying to move in on their hard-earned honey stores.
|The white stuff is a grease patty I gave them last time. It's supposed to help them resist tracheal mites. They don't |
seem to care for it all that much though. It annoys me too, because it's a hassle to move it. It falls apart so easily.
I was a little clumsy putting back a frame of honey as I was inspecting them. This is the point where I annoyed them pretty good and I had to work quickly through the rest of the frames. I was able to confirm that there are no laying workers and still no queen (I'm pretty sure I would have recognized her.) Still no eggs or capped brood.
Laying workers are supposed to present with eggs, larvae and capped brood, but they will all hatch out to be drones (which are pretty much useless to the hive.) I'm a little perplexed as to what happened here and how they failed to raise a replacement queen. I would have thought there should have at least been laying workers; but as I understand it, only nurse bees will become laying workers. This hive has been queenless for over a month now. Bad beekeeping on my part and definitely a live-and-learn situation. Despite bad weather and precious few good opportunities this early spring--I have to check in with them more often.
|Here they are sealed up for transport. Can you believe I lifted this by myself? I'd give it about 50-60 |
pounds. All those feed sacks I've had to haul down to the chicken barn have built up my strength...ha.
That's all for today's honey bee adventures! I'll stop by after church tomorrow and check them out to make sure they're coming and going from the hive OK. Next Monday I will inspect them again and see how the merger went.
This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop #17 over on The Prairie Homestead.
Link up and share your homesteading adventures over there!