Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Second Day of Summer

I guess it's only fitting that we experienced the highs and lows of beekeeping on the second official day of summer.

Our first stop this morning was the newest beeyard, located in Starkville. The bees are putting up honey like crazy! This is the "before" picture. We added honey supers, checked all of the hives to make sure they were queen-right, and sweated through our clothes.

Beautiful honey with "wet" cappings.

Our second stop was at the Tripletts' house. Mark thought, going into it, he had one dead hive. The bees haven't thrived there and we suspect there's just not enough for them to eat. As soon as we took the lid off, I could smell something stinky. Sure enough, the only bees in the hive were there to rob the honey, and small hive beetles had laid eggs in the comb -- one corner of the hive was crawling with nasty larvae, and several frame tops were covered in slime. (Don't worry, no pictures of THAT.)

But that was only the first hive. The second hive was struggling, but appeared to have a newly mated queen. All of the available comb space had eggs and young larvae, though there was no capped brood in the single deep box they occupied. Our fingers are crossed that this small population will bounce back. They have stored honey, but need more bees.

Then, in the third hive, we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It wasn't that the hive was struggling -- it was actually bursting at the seams. It had so many bees they overflowed the sides of the boxes. Bees flowed out of the box like lava. We had to change out the bottom board in the midst of all this chaos . . . and that was when Mark saw the queen in the grass in front of the hive. He tried to catch her, and couldn't.

We spent agonizing minutes trying to put the hive back together in hopes the bees would get inside and make finding the queen easier. Even though we had stacked 2 deeps and added 2 mediums, they wouldn't go inside. I crouched in the grass in front of the hive and carefully pushed aside grass and weeds and then I saw her! Mark quickly removed his gloves . . . and she crawled right up on his finger. He set his finger on the bottom board and she marched right into the hive. Within 10 minutes, several hundred bees had returned to the safety of their nice, dark, newly expanded hive.


Our last stop was at Bee Hill, to drop off the frames of honey from the failed hive. There were 2 deep boxes with frames full of honey, so we'll let the bees rob it out, and we'll be on the watch for an invasion of small hive beetles once those larvae that tagged along become adults. Blech.

On a good note: Bee Hill is LOADED with honey. Once Mark's back is better, he plans to harvest.

On another good note: my garden is doing well, and this morning I had a visitor!

This guest was about the size of a dinner plate!

This melon vine volunteered in the raised bed. Who knows how it will turn out?