Friday, June 27

Things Are Happening

There is tons of stuff going on with the bees.  There are more and more visible every day - perched on the hive entrance, coming and going, looking out from inside, zooming across the yard, on the flowers near the house...
Here's a photo of the hive.  There are two bees sitting next to each other and their wings are beating so quickly that you can't see them.  The purpose is to disperse the scent of the hive to guide the other workers back, but also, in the warm weather, bees will line up on their porch and do this to help circulate air through the hive body.

Monday, June 23

Second Super Goes On

On Tuesday I looked into the hive for the first time since returning.  I forgot that I had put on the inner cover and was startled lifting off the outer cover and having only a small slice through which bees were visible.  I was AMAZED when I lifted that off and saw how many bees were in the hive now.
When I left, I recall 6 frames being drawn out, but now there were plenty of bees on about 8 of the 10 frames.  Things that I noticed as changed or increased since I left in early June:
Bees zoomed across the back yard, bees hovered around the entrance to the hive, a cluster of bees sat on the landing board, sucking moisture out of the wood and cleaning the porch, in a way.
Inside, the tabs on the ends of the frames were glued together with propolis - a sticky resinous substance made by the bees to plug up gaps and strengthen the structure of their hive.  
Some of the frames had burr comb connecting them together, and I had to sever those cells and remove them from the hive so that I could continue to manipulate the frames.

Preparing for Two Weeks of Absence

Before I left for a two week trip, I opened up the hive one more time.  I wanted to gauge their progress and determine at what point their population growth would call for the addition of the second super.
I lit the smoker (which I am still relighting several times during each visit... frustrating!) and opened the hive, removing the white plastic hive-top feeder.  I was glad to see that the bees had quit making as much burr comb, and saw that about 6 of the 10 frames had been drawn into comb.  
I lifted one of the frames and noticed several bees emerging from their cells, all downy and small.  As I studied those, my mother, standing by and viewing the same frame from the other side, said, "Why is there a red bee?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"There - that bee is red, bright red, I can see it from here."
I had no idea what she meant but as I turned the frame I saw her - the queen bee, marked with a dot of red paint.  

I left for my vacation knowing that all was well and lively in the bee hive.