Bee checkup, August 2010

This is my last post for the weekend – like I said, Josh and I are going on a little mini-vacation. So I leave you with: BEES!

I went out to check on my hive this afternoon. It looked promising: much more activity all around, bees up in the super when I cracked the top off (haven’t seen that before, which means the population is rising enough for them to be finally checking out the extra real estate even though they aren’t building on it yet). The first bar I pulled out of the brood box even had some fresh-started comb on it – only two little lumps about as big as quarters, but still, the bees aren’t expected to be still building this late in the season and so I will be glad for what I can get.

The first full frame was pretty depressing, though. Nobody home, no eggs, uh-oh!

But the second side was full of honey:

There was capped (finished and stored) honey in most of the other frames, too. I love the way the sunlight looks through their self-drawn topbar comb, like a stained-glass window.

Of course I’d rather the frames were full of baby bees than honey, but… at least they have enough food that there is a chance that they can make it through the winter.

Speaking of baby bees, I found the queen for the first time:

And she is NOT THE QUEEN I BOUGHT! That queen was clipped (so she couldn’t swarm) and marked (with a big blue dot of paint). So this is a brand-new queen that has killed the old. Her laying pattern is good in some places:

But not prolific, and still very scattered in other places.

Is this colony just doomed to have poor layers, or what? Three queens in a row that can’t lay full frames of brood? Still, the population looks high enough that I can’t blame her yet:

In fact it was shortly after brushing the bees off that frame to get a clearer picture of her lay pattern…

That I ran out of smoke. This unfortunately coincided with a bunch of angry bees buzzing around looking for someone to blame for their being rudely swept off their home into space, which meant I got stung for the first time! Just once (and it was kind of anticlimactic – really, it just felt, and lingered for a couple hours, like a small burn). I forgive them. After all, I’m pretty sure I must have squashed at least a couple while banging up their colony today. Turnabout’s fair play.

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