Today, Mum was my able assistant and photographer – thanks Mum!
We started by opening up Hive Jessica. This was the first inspection since moving it last week and I was excited to see what was going on. So, it was with great disappointment that I found very few bees, little stores and no capped brood, larvae or eggs. There were some supersedure queen cells, one of which had a dead semi-emerged queen. Another was capped so could potentially still emerge. But, it looks like this hive is once again queenless, or waiting on a queen to emerge or has a virgin queen. Not a good position to be in at this time of year! We also found a number of dead bees on the hive floor.
With so few house or worker bees and with the uncertainty of whether there is a queen, a merge with another hive isn’t an option. I’m sorry to say, this hive is no longer viable and will naturally die out. It’s disappointing and frustrating but we can honestly say, as beekeepers, we did everything we could to help it survive but nature has had other ideas.
On a happier note, Hive Rebecca was teeming with bees, had capped brood, loads of stores and some pollen. I didn’t notice any larvae or eggs but the queen should be slowing her laying so I’m not unduly concerned.
The frames, full of either stores or stores and capped brood are heavy and stuck down by propolis, the bees own glue. This sticky brown substance gets everywhere including my phone! The weight of each brood box is now at my absolute limit to lift – a great preparation for the winter months to come.
You may remember, this is now a double brood box hive so I had 22 frames to look through. What a treat! This many frames takes a while to inspect. The longer the hive is open, the more annoyed the bees get so today, I got my first proper sting. It was through my glove, on the back of my hand. The alarm pheromone was now in the air and it was amazing to see the other bees rushing to attack the same area. A disposable glove over my bee glove foxed them and I was free to carry on with my inspection.
Some of the frames in the lower brood box are shallower than they should be which allows the bees to extend the frames using their own comb designs. These are clever and beautiful structures but rather unstable when you start moving them. Last inspection, a large section of extended comb fell off. It was full of capped brood so I placed it upright on the floor of the hive. I had no idea if they would die or emerge. Today, I retrieved the comb and to my astonishment, all but a few bees had emerged! The video of the bee being born is one from that comb. I put the comb back as the newly born bee and those still to emerge would not survive outside the hive.
Today had it’s disappointment and it’s pain but to witness the exact moment a bee emerged and to see the mass of busy bees full of life was a joy! Oh and yes, it’s good to know I don’t have an anaphylactic reaction to bee stings!