Although we keep bees, we have (mostly) allowed them to keep themselves this season. We had a few extra hours on Saturday and decided it was about time to take a quick peek and see how they were faring.
Below is the hive in our back yard. We added an extra super the last time we inspected and left the feeder on the top in case they are in need of water. Last year when it got so hot, the girls chose our neighbor's pool as their water source (not the best idea for anyone!), so we want to do our best to avoid those complications this year.
I had my trusty camera, so Wayne did all the heavy lifting (good excuse, huh?). First things first, we removed the cover and located just a few (hundred) ants. Ugh. We'll have to work on that a bit. Next we remove the feeder to find the girls buzzing around and none too happy to see us. I firmly believe the less you inspect, the less tolerant of inspections the bees become.
Here's where the fun begins. Wayne commented that he was hearing the girls rather loudly. That's not surprising if they are aggravated, but something about the way Wayne said it made me pause. Two beats later, Wayne goes running (literally) across the garden in his bee suit (yep....our neighbors were outside...of course), through the garden gate, directly to the hose. He turned it on, took the nozzle, aimed it at his face, and pressed. He was left wet and gasping a bit. After making sure he was okay, I almost collapsed giggling. Other beekeepers will likely know what happened. For those who have not been in a bee suit I'll explain: there are zippers. A collection of them. If you forget one or two (like the handy ones around your hood), bees get in and often get ever so slightly frustrated when they can't get back out. Wayne had been collecting "friends" inside his hood while we were out there. They were becoming less friendly the more time they spent with him.
Thankfully Wayne's quick (and comic) reaction meant that he ended the experience with only one sting, and it's in his beard. So, although it is painful, it's not noticeable at all. After double checking for bees in his suit (and finding one other rather aggravated bee), we carefully zipped him up and returned to the inspection. My guess is that he'll double check zippers next time.
The first super from the top was FULL of honey. Totally and completely. It's great news as it means the girls are thriving and collecting; however, it means that they are likely honey bound. We'll need to either harvest, or add an additional super. Otherwise they may start storing honey in the brood chamber and there will be no where for the queen to lay.
Speaking of which, here's one frame from the brood section. The capped cells all contain developing brood. The pattern is a bit strange. You would normally see the whole middle filled in - almost in a football shape. Wayne suggested that maybe those were newly hatched and/or the queen is making her way there now. Who knows.
We didn't pull out any additional frames as the girls were rather grumpy and had been open a while because our of detour to the hose. Wayne will be poking around again on Monday to add a super if nothing else.
As Wayne closed up the hive, I wandered around the garden a bit. It is a total mess right now and needs weeding and training of the vines that are trying to take over. Our bee balm is one plant that I'm glad is getting a bit out of control. Not sure what it is that I adore so much, but I just find them gorgeous, and (bonus) the hummingbirds love them too.