Bee Karate

Bumble Bees are not Honey Bees. Bumble Bees are the ones that are like a big black and yellow fuzzy ball and fly low to the ground seemingly bouncy as they go. They also don’t belong in a honey bee hive.

Now that I switched my entrance reducer to the wider setting, I have been a little worried about predators having an easier time getting into the hive. Know what tried to get into the hive as I sat and watched my girls today? Any guesses? Well, if you put two and two together, that makes for one big annoying bumble bee.

I watched as this guy tried so hard to get in the hive. I actually had to restrain myself from interfering too much because I was a little curious what my little bees would do, but at the same time my bees didn’t seem too concerned about this annoyance. So he finally gets in, and I kid you not, it took only three seconds until my bees whipped out some karate on his butt. He fled so quickly and erratically that I don’t think he’ll be back again – hi-yahhh!

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Adding a Super

We added a super to the hive today. The bees were ready for the new addition. Besides getting bees in the first place, I’m considering this my next big milestone.

Went with another deep box, let’s call that “daisy” box (which is the same size as what we will now call our first box – “sunflower” box) so that we could put a couple frames from sunflower into daisy. There are a lot of conflicting views out there on whether to move frames up or not, and so we just decided to go for it. (When it comes to beekeeping, it seems there is a lot of personal trial and error.)

Now, since we were going for it, moving a couple frames up that is, my preference was to take two frames (one from each far side of sunflower) and move them up into daisy. However, my husband seemed to think it was a better idea to take two frames from stage-right since the bees hadn’t begun any comb on the other sides’ last frame. Also, he thought that would be a good thing because they would have the same pattern sitting next to each other up in the middle of daisy. We’ll see how it goes!

While we were at it, we switched our entrance reducer to the wider setting. It took quite a bit of prying with the hive tool to get that little block of wood unstuck from the super. With all the stuff we were doing to the hive, I kind of half-expected the bees to get a little annoyed with us. At first with the switching of the entrance, it seemed like there was a little confusion for them and one did buzz my hat, but all went back to normal once we got the reducer back in place. As for their behavior when we added the daisy super, they didn’t seem curious, annoyed, or anything. Another successful interaction, still never been stung!

I also scraped off the comb that I had noticed on my birthday which they had spilling over onto the tops of the sunflower bars. I just want to keep the tops clean as I’ve noticed it sticking to my top covers as well. This time there was no honey in those little pieces, but I was pleased to see they had been hard at work to cap the frames of honey they had produced recently. Although I won’t be able to give some of my co-workers a little taste until a few months from now, I know it’s a good sign that the bees are capping their reserves. How exciting!

On a side note, earlier this morning, before all of this fun activity, I went out to the hive to watch them come and go and there were a handful of dead drones just outside the entrance again. I even observed one returning to the hive and he got quite the buzz by a couple workers as he went in through the entrance. I also found one alive in the grass near the hive and so I picked him up to look at him (keep in mind that drones don’t have stingers) as it appeared he was having a hard time in the grass – he had just repeatedly been crawling up a blade of grass and falling off again and again. As I held him in my hand and looked at him I could tell there were some white scratches on one of his eyes. Other than that it didn’t appear to be anything the matter with him, although it seemed like his balance was off. He peed a little in my hand too – bee pee! Actually, bees don’t pee because they need to conserve water, so the waste he eliminated onto my hand must have been uric acid. I placed him back in the grass to let nature take its course with him.

HONEY!

I don’t know if you can tell from this photo, but the hive has been very active the past two weeks around mid-afternoon. If you look to the left of the hive in the grassy area, you can see many bees hovering in the air waiting to go into the entrance of the hive.

Here’s another photo a little bit more close-up and personal.

Yesterday we had some friends over and showed them the hive. It was the first time I’d opened up in 10 days since the wax worms were on my bottom board. When I took the top cover off I could already tell that much work had been accomplished. Through the hole on my inside cover they were building comb on top of the frames and connecting it to the bottom of the inside cover. Using my hive tool, I slid between the comb and the inside cover to free it up so I could take the cover off and show everyone. As I did this, the cover came free very easily (must have been because of the 93 degree heat) and upon removing it I immediately noticed that my population had increased – not sure by how much but it seemed like a lot.

I pulled out two frames from the end, nothing but lonesome bees on the last one doing not much at all; however, the second to last frame they were already pulling comb on both sides – wow, that was fast! I thought “pulling” took a long time on plastic cell frames? Not only that, but between the third and fourth frames from that end as I pulled them lightly a gap, I could see uncapped honey (lots of it!)just kind of oozing between those frames. Also, the comb that they had formed on top of the frames and connected to my inside cover had uncapped honey in it.

So much to celebrate!!! With my hive tool, I scraped off a piece of comb from the tops of the bars and was able to give my friends a little taste – it was absolutely delicious!!!!! I don’t know if I’m the best person to describe taste with my lack of sense of smell, but it was delicately sweet, just lovely. I have some Michigan honey in my pantry from the local grocery store that is supposed to be pure and not have had any treatments, but that stuff compared with my honey…there’s no comparison. The store bought honey is like tasting pure sugar. My honey also seems to be pleasantly fragrant (although I can’t smell it, I can kind of feel the smell) and the texture so smooth. Yay! I can’t believe that I got to taste my bees’ honey already. One of the best birthday presents I could ever have wished for. GREAT day!

Good News and Bad News

Let’s start with the bad news first to get it over with. I found wax worms in my hive today!
I pulled out the bottom board to have a look and it was covered in wax worms that were crawling through tunnels of gauzy white webbing. It was horrifying. I had no idea what they were at first, so I threw the pull-out board off to the side of the garage so it wouldn’t blow away and ran inside to look it up online. Sure enough I found an exact image right away defining what they were. I know these turn into a major nuisance for the hive and can cause serious destruction of the comb. Reading up on it more I realized that I had not been keeping my bottom board clean which is the primary reason that these pests can set up shop in the hive. Bits of wax had fallen through the screened bottom board on to the pull-out piece and had been collecting there ever since I put the bees in their hive, which lured these nasty things.

On the flip side, it made me inspect my hive more thoroughly as I was on the quest to see if any damage had been done in the frames my bees are working, and I was pleased to finally see that they have begun pulling on my plastic cell foundation! That means they are expanding out of the original 5 frames that they came with in the nuc and are now taking to my frames. The comb they built nearly covered an entire side of one frame. It was pure white and so pretty. I am so excited and can’t wait to see what more they do with it in the next few weeks! Pictures to come soon!