This weekend we decided to check on the bees. It’s been three weeks since we brought our little buzzing friends home. And about two and a half weeks since we released the queens. When each queen was released, she went on her maiden flight, mated with some drones and returned to the hive to being laying eggs. About 21-24 days after she was released, baby bees should be born. Which means it’s almost time for the babies in our hives!
In the meantime, the worker bees have been busy building comb and collecting the pollen and nectar. Because the “nectar flow” hasn’t started here yet (meaning there aren’t as many natural nectar sources like flowers available now), we are supplementing with a container of sugar water. The workers collect and store this as well. We fill the container about every other day, keeping them well supplied with the good stuff.
Saturday morning it was a little cool so Josh decided to refill the sugar water without donning his biohazard suit bee suit. Bees are less active when the temperatures are lower, plus he wasn’t actually opening the hive body. The sugar water container sits on top of the inner cover of the hive, not down where the bees and their food live. Josh just lifts the container off, fills it up and puts it back without really bothering the bees at all.
The kids decided to go with him. Before the bees came, none of the kids wanted anything to do with them but now my oldest son has decided they aren’t vicious stinging machines. They are, in fact, cool and he wants to work with them too. I’m hoping to get him a bee suit this week but in the meantime they were able to get a quick peek this weekend. The other two are warming up to them too and decided to come along.
Notice the tan stripe between the tall and short box. The tall box contains all the frames and bees. The tan strip is the inner cover that covers the top of the tall box except for a little hole in the middle. The short box on top is a dummy box that covers the sugar water container so that the outer lid can fit over the whole thing. Clear as mud, right? No? Basically, bees in the closed-up bottom, no bees in the open top. Always good for a mom to know when her kids are present.
This is the point where my (smart) daughter high-tailed it out of there. And her nervous mother said, “Um, that’s enough until we get bee suits!” Sure, it was cool. Sure, they are standing behind the hive away from the bee’s entrance/exit. Sure, I over-react. Often. Okay, daily. But the bees now have a queen, babies and honey to protect. They get mad and hard to reason with when they feel attacked. So that was as close as the boys got until they too look like mini biohazard men.
We wanted to inspect the inside of the hives but that is best done on a nice sunny afternoon (with bee suits on). That way most of the worker bees are out of the hive looking for food. Less bees in the hive means less angry bees when we invade their home. We’ll only be looking around, not harming anything but for some reason the bees just don’t understand our intentions.
We decided to wait until the afternoon for the hive inspection so we headed off to a Civil War re-enactment. Has absolutely nothing to do with our homestead (okay, maybe if i say it was a homeschool field trip?) but it was kinda cool so I thought I’d share a few pics. It was small but that meant we could get closer to the “action”.
Since the re-enactment took up our Saturday afternoon, we didn’t get around to inspecting the hives until Sunday. We were pleased with what we saw.
Okay, Josh was pleased with what he saw. It all looked impressive to me since I really didn’t know what I was looking at.
I do know that the little white C-shaped things in the cells at the bottom of this photo are larvae. The queen has been busy!
And where is her Royal Highness?
Let’s see if we can’t try that again.
There. That’s better. See? She’s the long one in the middle. Isn’t it cool how everyone is parting for her to pass? We were able to locate the queens in both the hives, plus see all the eggs the ladies have laid.
So with all my bee-keeping expertise, I claim these hives in good condition. Now we can all sleep easier tonight, don’t you think?
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