Saturday, June 8, 2013

Don't Worry Bee Happy

This Thursday, I did my long anticipated check to see if the queenless hive had rectified its situation. And lo and behold, I have good tidings to bring!

But let's do this in chronological order. I looked at the weekend's weather forecast and decided that I didn't to chance it and wanted to take advantage of Thursday's clear skies. Of course, that meant I'd have assistants with me...
Lighting the smoker is half the fun, apparently. We opened the second hive first, the one that used to have a drone laying queen. I wanted to make sure that the replacement queen I had put in there was active and laying eggs. First impression was that the hive with only one brood box on was very full and busy! And when we took the cover off, there was a nice surprise of honey comb waiting for us. I scraped that off and put it in a jar for later...
And we saw eggs, as well as a good amount of capped brood. I didn't go into too much detail and didn't bother searching for the queen too much, since I was worried about the 2yo assistant losing her patience. And I knew I had a second hive waiting to be inspected, too.
Spilled honey
The tiny white dots in the empty looking cells are eggs!

I gave the bees a second brood box so they can spread out a bit, and removed the feeder. This effectively moved the bees entrance from the middle of the stack to the top, under the rim of the lid. Can you see that small cluster of bees on the front? Those are
confused foragers that arrived home to find their door moved! Bees are amazing navigators!

The tiny white sticks are eggs!
Then I closed up the hive and moved over to the other one. This is the hive where the queen had been lost, and I wasn't sure of the schedule for the worker bees to raise their own queen. First impression when I was pulling frames from the top of the two brood boxes: They must have glued together some frames! So hard to pull! But no, that wasn't it. It was that the frames were bursting full of honey! I couldn't believe how heavy they had become, much heavier than when they're filled with brood. Much to my delight I found eggs on one of the first frames I pulled, and on the lower frames, I found young larvae. I did not find older larvae or capped brood, indicating that there really was a break in breeding for a while. 
Those small white worms are baby bees

After the heavy lifting was done, and the hive closed up again, came the fun part: The first taste of our own honey! We broke off pieces of the extra honeycomb, chewing them to release the sweet, sweet honey. The wax doesn't taste like much and we just spat it out.

My oldest daughter thought this side view of honeycomb looks like a Matisse cutout, isn't she right?
 And I couldn't leave without some pictures of my favorite poppies, quickly fading right now.

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