Covered in BEEEEZ

No, the farm didn’t go up in smoke, our house didn’t collapse, and we aren’t destitute or internet-less. I’ve simply been, in a word, busy. First my parents came for two weeks, and then Josh’s. They overlapped there in the middle for a few days – I thought it might be nice if they actually met each other, you know, for more than just that hour before the wedding seven years ago – and Josh’s parents are leaving in a couple days.

You can actually thank all these parents for the bunch of blog posts that you’ll get after they leave; both sets have been slaving away in the house and farm, working harder than my wildest hopes. I am flabbergasted and overjoyed, and optimistic that, hey! This might actually get done in less than ten years! But it also keeps me quite busy trying to keep up.

We’ve put together so many beds and paths in the farm that we’ve completely run out of mulch. We’ve gone through six cubic yards of compost/manure mix. The chickies are snug in their house and looking more like regular old big fat chickens every day. And now let me show you about my beeeeeeez.

My friend the USDA beekeeper (is that not awesome? Could I have better beekeeping help if I tried?) helped me install 3 pounds of Italians about two weeks ago. I’ve checked on them twice since then, and the second time it went much easier. I got the smoker to work, for one thing. If only I could say the same for the camera. Alas, all the pictures are out of focus.

Looking down into the main hive body: My friend donated some already-drawn frames (full of empty honeycomb cells) to me, so that the queen would have at least a little bit of a place to start laying right away. (Isn’t that thoughtful?) Those are the three darker frames. The lighter (new) frames have nothing in them; they are essentially an empty box for the bees to fill.

Since I’m doing top-bar beekeeping, the bees have been having some trouble building straight comb, instead tending to burr out between the frames. Just little burrs for now, so I’ve sliced them when I saw them. I hope that’s ok; I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do other than completely pare it down and make them start over, and that seems counterproductive with as little comb as they have.

Here’s one of the pre-drawn frames. All three were full of honey and some pollen cells. No brood, though.

Here’s the biggest (by far!) comb that the bees themselves have drawn. This is where I found the brood.

It was the only frame that had any larvae in it, and the pattern wasn’t great. Kind of thick in patches, but plenty of scattered open cells too here and there. Less grubs than I had expected – and in only one of four fully-drawn frames.  That, and the fact that I couldn’t find the queen, makes me worry about her. If her lay pattern isn’t great, the colony will wither and die. I may have to requeen. (I wish the $#%@*$% camera had focused right so I could use this pic as intended, to send to my beekeeper friend for brood pattern analysis!)

Perhaps this means I need to take another trip out there to make sure everything’s ok, and to take a better picture – I’m just irrationally afraid the bees will get angrier each time. At least I figured out how to work my smoker this time!

One Response to “Covered in BEEEEZ”

  1. Aunt Nancy Says:

    I assume Joshua was in the house hiding somewhere since he’s not a fan of bees! :)

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