Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy Bees

The bees have been busy over the past several weeks, building comb just as fast as they can and filling them with brood cells and pollen stores.  They have built about 10 bars of comb, some of it fully formed, and are working on some honey stores.  The weather has been unseasonably cool this spring, but we finally seemed to have turned the corner towards summer.

I finally received gloves and a smoker, plus fuel, that I had ordered and was all ready to check on them on Monday.  Thunderstorms and a couple of really windy days delayed those plans, but I was able to go up during lunch today and do a hive inspection.  In truth, I have very little idea what to look for.  But I have noticed that the photos are hi-res and reveal a lot of details, so I am considering making digital photos a regular part of the inspection....then I can review the photos later for details that are hard to spot in the field.The small bit of comb that these bees are working on was drawn on the bar furthest from the hive entrance.  I had added three empty bars a couple of weeks ago near the entrance in order to give them room to expand their brood area.  They have filled all three bars in that time, really amazing.  I am not totally satisfied that I have optimized the brood area/storage areas, but they will deal with it in their own way, I am sure.
As I was inspecting some of the brood comb, I was able to watch a couple of bees emerge.  It was pretty cool to see.  I have always thought of bees as a flying insect, but when in the hive they are really better thought of as a swarming/crawling insect.  They have some personality, it seems to me, and I chuckled a couple of times as I was trying to close up the hive.  The girls line up on the edges of the top bars gazing up at the sky, making it hard to get the bars positioned close to one another.  Some brave few even venture out onto the tops of the bars, fanning themselves in little groups, seeming to congratulate themselves on their bravery.  Until the bars start to get put back, in which case they scramble to get back inside.
Evie and Piper are excited about some business opportunities that might arise from the bees.  Piper is going to be in charge of honey sales, Evie has decided to focus on wax products, especially natural lip balms.  Future posts may include shameless sale's pitches.  You are forewarned!