Tuesday, July 12, 2016

You Won't Like Us When We're Angry

This morning, the first sunny morning in several days, I checked on my bees.

First I got into the nuc colony. I found capped honey, open honey, capped worker cells which just might be the ones I put in there 3 weeks ago, and new larvae. Which implies there is an active queen. I am checking with the local beekeeper discussion group about that. I still didn't see her. But they were nice, and polite, and I was able to see every comb before I closed them up. Minimal drama.

The hive was another story. I got into it from the back end, where there are still 5-6 open bars, and moved them out so I could slide the rest down and see everything. There were three bars full of capped honey. More than enough to get them through the low nectar flow parts of the summer and maybe there will be some to spare for me at the end of the season. There is plenty more honey building up in there. There were larvae, and lots of busy workers and not as many drones as before. I skipped the 3 combs that I know are fully crossed and impossible to move and went a little closer to the front of the hive to pull out another comb that they were just building. That was the empty bar I'd put in when I checkerboarded the hive. Well. As I pulled it out all of the sudden the hive became an angry, loud, absolutely freaked out mass of bees. I had about a thousand bees around me in an instant. Time to go.

It took a while to get them all settled enough to get the bars back in place with the least amount of bee lives lost. One stung my glove (new ones, leather, and WAY better) and I watched it struggle until it flew away, leaving its stinger and drop of venom on my glove. I closed everything up eventually and beat a hasty retreat. Thank goodness I had my gear on today!

What I did not see: queen cells of any kind. I think the danger of swarming is gone. Now I have to figure out what to do with my new box of bees. Do I combine them, which involves finding the weaker queen and killing her? Finding the queen is not my strongest skill, to put it mildly. I might give them away, which would absolutely require someone with an open bed pickup truck as I am NOT putting them in my car. The other thought would be to get a second hive, which is not something I planned for.

The new queen has been dubbed Queen Beeulah. Long live the queen!

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