We headed out to the homestead for the long Memorial Day Weekend excited to have an extra day to spend there, and anxious about finally doing hive inspections. We have been trying to coordinate schedules with John, the guy we bought the hives from, for over a month now with no success. We finally decided that this is the weekend we will just do it. The weather prediction was perfect and the hives were over due for inspection. Done deal.
Darn good thing we had a mind set of inspecting hives because as we pulled up to the apiary we could clearly see that one hive had bees globbed all over the front of it. We know that bees will do this when they are hot, but it remained in the lower 80s each day of this long weekend, dipping to around 60 each night, but the bees never left the front of the hive - and this was the only hive that was doing this. A quick check with Iddee (a friend from the Bee Forum on Homesteading Today) confirmed that we probably had a little problem. The hive was over crowded, which made sense because this is our most active hive - and it is really active!
We had company over the weekend, so we decided to head down first thing this morning (Memorial Day) and get six supers ready to put on top of each of the hives. Now that the nectar is flowing, they'll need the supers to start making honey. This will also make some room and get those girls busy that have been hanging out on the front of our active hive.
You may recall that when Bernie first got these six hives I was terrified of the bees. And when I say terrified I don't mean I was kind of afraid of them. I mean I was abso-freaking-lutely T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D of them. I never thought in a million years that I would get within a 100 feet of them, much less snap close up pictures and become completely enamoured with them. But these little girls quickly won my heart and I find myself hopelessly fascinated with their every movement.
So I found myself somewhat excited to open up the hives and take a look inside. That was, of course, until I realized that one of those hives had several hundred if not thousand hanging out right in plain view on the front of the hive. I became very much less enthusiastic as that reality sunk in. And as I stood there suiting up in my veil, gloves, and jacket worrying about it, Bernie bounded across the yard and picked that very hive to be the first that we would tackle. Well joy of joys. I thought I would puke.
I quickly grabbed my smoker and my camera and headed over to give him a hand. Am I a good wife or what??? My heart was hammering in my chest as I watched him puff some smoke on the globs. The bees reacted a little differently than I expected. I thought it would somehow soothe them, but it really seemed to piss them off. They began buzzing loudly - but they stopped moving around and seemed to calm right down in short order. I helped Bernie pry open the lid that was sealed with propolis and then pry off the feeder box. Next we pried off the top hive entrance. Between each step, we puffed a little smoke at the bees. Once the top hive entrance was off, we could see that the entire feed box was filled with bees. The frames were full of honey. We reassembled the hive and added a super. The lazy bees globbed on the front of the hive now have frames they need to draw out and fill with honey. That should occupy them for a while.
We repeated this process on each of the remaining six hives. Each one got easier and easier for us. By the time we got to the last two hives, we didn't even use smoke to open them up and I didn't even help Bernie. I finally got a few pictures! I was so excited helping Bernie and then watching that I didn't get as many pictures as I had hoped - and I got none of the frames that he removed. But I did get some good ones of the process, so check them out. They are the last 13 or so pictures on this page.
Next weekend we'll do a complete inspection of the weakest hive. Iddee wants us to locate the queen and any queen cells and remove the super so they can focus on the brood for now. I'll be sure to get lots of pictures.
In two or three weeks we'll open up all the hives again to see the progress on honey and whether or not we need to add additional supers. I'll be sure to get pictures of that too. Be sure to check back with us!