2016-05-23

The Bees Are Doing Well....

Stopped by to see how the bees were doing this afternoon.  Arrived around 16:00 when it was abuot 80 degrees F and with a steady south wind of about 15 miles an hour.  Not really an optimum visitation scenario.  Mostly, I just wanted to drop off a bucket of sugar water to one of the hives that did not get any because I was short on sugar last Friday.

There was a lot of activity at the entrance of all three hives.  And many bees traveling to and fro from the woods to the North and the long grassy area to both the east and west.  It was kind of fun to sit back and watch the 'fly-zones' around each hive.  Sort of like having three airports lined up serving different air lines in a way.

I noticed that the entrance reducer was not visible on the Eastern most hive, got down on my hands an knees to see what might have happened, and sure enough: something had pushed the reducer back into the hive.  The bees made it abundantly clear that they did not want me correcting the situation at that time of day, so I left placed the bucket of sugar water in the hive where it was needed and left to wait for cooler weather and tempers...

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I returned to the hives about a half hour before dark.  A much more mellow reception.  The activity at the entrances and in the air space around the hive was substantially reduce.  Temperature was around 68 and almost no wind, which I am sure helped.

I fired up the smoker and put the entrance reducer back in place on the Eastern hive.  Then decided to do a quick check on a few frames to see what might have happened since the last time.  The bees are still working hard on finishing drawing comb on the central six frames.  There is an oval shaped band of closed cells on the outermost frames with the innermost frames having about 70% closed cells.  I noted what were clearly some young bees crawling about, and a few new-borns working their way out of the cells.  I have yet to spot the queen in any of the hives, but clearly there is a queen working in each hive.

The bees seem to work the top of the frames first, building up comb, then work toward the outer edges, subsequently closing cells in that oval band an inch in from the edge.  After that, the cells within the oval get filled/closed, and the bottom of the frame is left for last.  Maybe leaving room for easy access from the bottom of the hive?  Sort of a 'why clutter the entryway' approach perhaps?

I was surprised to see a little black spider pop up from the bottom of the bottom board, grab a bee, apparently paralyze it, and then run off with the body.  Not sure why I was surprised I guess, other than it was unexpected at the moment.  I am sure there must be predators that take a bee now and again.

I don't see any glaring differences between hives, nor between bee varieties.  The bottom of the hives still remain relatively clean, and bodies of the deceased seem to be consistently removed from the hive, indicating that the attrition rate is not high, and that cleanup duties are easily achieved.  I don't know much about it, but that indicates to me that the bees are doing well.

The fact that a little smoke is all that I use to keep them calm when I am handling the frames indicates that they are not too terribly defensive either, perhaps an indication that they are feeling relatively safe in the current environment?  Maybe wishful thinking...    Regardless, the bees tolerate my presence pretty well, so have not had to suit up yet.  I think though, that if I had tried to do frame checks and entrance adjustments earlier when it was hot and windy, it would not have gone so well. They did make it clear that I was not welcome at that time... gotta remember that...