Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Hive is Growing

I have done a few quick inspections to see how things are progressing in the hive. And things seem to be going well. Progress is a little slower than I expected, but it is probably more about my impatience than anything else. It is hard to resist the temptation to open the hive every day - but it's really not a good idea to bug them that much.

That being said, I did need to check to see how the bees were coming along in drawing out the honeycomb. The rule of thumb is, when the first box is 80% full of drawn comb, it is time to add another super/box to the hive so that they can continue to grow.

So I opened up the hive and saw that they had almost drawn out 8 full frames of comb - close enough to add a new super. I looked for the queen but was unable to find her this time, though I saw evidence (lots of larvae) that she was doing her job. When putting on a new super, some beekeepers recommend taking two frames of brood from the original box, and moving it up to the new box in order to entice the queen to start laying eggs in the new super. So this is what I did - took two frames full of brood and put them in the new super, then replaced the brood frames that I took from the original super with two new empty frames for the bees to work on.

The bees were very mellow during this inspection, they didn't bother me at all. No stings. Here's some video - complete with family narration and participation!

A week or so later, I wanted to check the hive again because, well, for no good reason other than I just had to see what was going on. The bees had other ideas! As soon as I opened the hive, I was dive-bombed by a kamikaze worker bee. She stung me on my forearm! After dealing with the sting, I had a chance to take a quick look to see how they were doing in the new super. They were drawing out comb nicely - here is a cool shot of them working on new comb - this is called "festooning" (what a great word!) - they cling together and make a ladder of sorts as they excrete wax from their wax glands.

Here is a close-up view...

But overall, the ladies were very cranky and they were buzzing all around my head and veil. As I was looking at one of the frames, lo and behold, the queen walks right in front of my eyes. I wasn't even looking for her but there she was. This might explain why the bees were cranky and defensive, because the queen was right there where I was looking. It also could have been because, once a bee stings someone (or something) pheromones are released that alert the other bees that there is trouble nearby. So having just been sting, the alarm had been sounded.

After spotting the queen, I just closed up the hive, deciding that it was better just to leave them alone that day. Besides, there was no good reason for me to tear apart their home any more than I already had.

Update on second hive...
I have had a really tough time getting in touch with the people who I ordered my nuc from - they had not returned any of my emails. I finally heard from them this week - they said that they should be shipping the nuc later this week - but I have heard that before from them, so I'm not too confident. We'll see - the plan is still to keep them at the community garden.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like your bees are doing great! Love the helpful commentary on the video. And that's a great spot for a hive. Keeps the girls up and out of your hair, so to speak.