Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Near Dark on the Bee Hill

Mark wanted to set out two more hive stands (the last two of the original six) tonight, so I went along with him to the bee hill. Some day we'll have start calling it Bee Hill and the other hills Bee Bumps 1 & 2, because they don't seem nearly as big. For now, Bee Hill will do, 'cause it's the only with bees on it.

First problem: my camera kept fogging up because the temperature difference between inside and outside is so great. Blech. I deleted the photos, because they made it look like I was in Ye Old England, with fog and atmosphere, and a knife-wielding psycho lurking in the bushes, cue scary music.

For the record, the only things lurking the bushes were a rather stupid deer and many, MANY bugs, not of the bee variety. Which was the second problem: I kept ducking as things buzzed past my head and swatting at my legs, thinking bugs were crawling into my pants.

Most of the bees were already in the hive boxes or crowding around the entrance, trying to get in before nightfall. Here is a photo of Hive 1.

Mark recently added a medium super to the two "deeps" with the idea that the bees will build brood in the two lower boxes, and honey comb in the top, which will see them through the winter. Technically he could harvest the honey, but then might have to feed them through the winter. And let's be honest: he'll be in the woods hunting all winter, so it's just better to let the bees sustain themselves on their preferred food.

Strangely, Hive 4, the newest addition, had zero bees at the entrance. Then I realized they had a feeder inside, so why leave? Apparently bees don't follow that rule about stretching your comfort zone and getting to know your neighbors when you move into a new neighborhood.

After Mark got his stands set, he took the lids off each of the hives to show me the activity inside. Thankfully, each one had a screen for ventilation, so there was no risk of getting stung. That would have been the third problem.

Interestingly, in Hive 3, which hasn't had a super added to it yet, the bees were building comb from the screen down. Mark said he'd checked the hive yesterday, and on one side the frames were full, but the frames on the other side of the hive weren't. Rather than go fill the empty frames, the bees were building on the screen. I think Mark said something about moving the frames around, but frankly I was too busy taking pictures and wondering if ticks were crawling into my socks to pay too much attention.

Now I'm going to follow the bees example and settle in for the night.

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