Before I start this week I want to point you to another bee blog I’ve been following with interest: http://novice-beekeeper.blogspot.com/ . He’s been facing many of the same issues as me, plus a lot more, and it’s been interesting to read how he’s been dealing with it. He’s been doing his own queen rearing recently, for instance.
We returned to the bees this evening – both my girls were with me, and as we pulled up, Simon and his daughter were already there, suiting up and lighting their smoker, having already seen their other Apiary. In height order, that my eldest lent carelessly against the fence, then Simon with his back to us. Facing us on his left is my youngest, and his daughter is just to his right. You don’t get better photographs for this money… ;O)
We started with Simon’s hives, all of which are almost ready to harvest – even the three super monster on the far right there. Mine is on the far left. So the girls got a good view of all the colonies, and could see the differences between them. One of the two older, boxier poly hives on the joint stand was queenless, but Simon added a newly bought Queen which should fix that problem as long as she gets accepted by the existing workers.
This is my youngest examining a super frame from a not-yet full super – it was placed in just above the brood box 2 weeks ago, with fuller super above, so the heat from the brood would help with the wax making, and so they’d concentrate more on this one. You can see they’ve eaten away and re-used some of the wax elsewhere. You can see most of the bees here have their heads in to cells, sucking up honey. This is what smoking does – Bees would normally live high in a tree within a forest so if they think a fire might be coming, so they gather up honey ready to run with it. You don’t want them to actually run though, so you have to be careful not to over do it.
Here we are at the monster hive at the other end from mine, looking in the newest super, where they’re building more than storing still.
The first picture here shows my eldest holding one of the brood frames from our hive. The second besides it is a close-up of it. Again, you can see a few bees have there heads into the stored honey, as we just smoked them. But you can also see a number of larvae curled up like little white Cs in some of the cells, not yet sealed in. Some of the rest of the cells are sealed – brood is a yellower cap than honey – and on the middle-right there you can see a larvae in the process of being sealed in, the dome not yet complete. There are a couple more almost complete lower down.
I’ve still not seen any eggs here – we didn’t check every frame, and didn’t find the queen because my smoker ran out of cardboard and they started getting a bit angry with us. In fact as I took this picture, a bee stung the rubber around the edge of the Bumper on my iPhone, leaving the sting behind. So we put the brood box back together. But the new larvae means we definitely have an active queen again – as does this:
My bees have started construction on some of the frames in the super we put on. Not much, and no food storage yet. And what they do store I’ll leave them with for the winter. But they’ve started =O)
So we put the hive back together, with too little smoke, so they were a little angry – but no where near as much as they have been before the queen arrived. Here they are at the door:
Sorry for the gloved thumb in shot – I’m just not a photographer, and I was surrounded by bees and watching my kids… Well, you get the idea.