Prior to officially becoming a “beekeeper”, I read books. Lots of books. Big books. Small books. Even “Beekeeping for Dummies”. Since becoming a “beekeeper”, I have had at least seven seasoned beekeepers tell me, “Bees do not read books,” meaning they are very unpredictable. That’s a shame since there are lots of things they should probably be doing if they would just read the books and follow the guidelines. It would make my life a lot easier and I would be able to help their lives be easier as well.
Going back a few weeks…
I did a pre-vacation check-up on my top bar hive. It was beautiful. There were bees. They were happy. They were building beautiful comb. They were building fast and furious. Life was good.
I added a couple of empty bars for them to fill up, totaling 10 bars in the hive. Then I left them alone for a few weeks to build and feed their larvae and bee happy.
Likewise, the Langstroth hive was doing better. After I added some of their honey and brood to a second, empty super (box) to encourage them to move up, I thought things would be ok. There were lots of bees.
There were frames full of honey.
I think it’s cool when they chain together by holding onto each other’s legs to keep their hive together.
In watching them, I noticed lots of things. Like, this bee fight. I’m not sure what was going on, but one bee was definitely roughing up another bee.
I had queens accounted for in both hives.
I made several bags of sugar water as a precautionary measure and headed south. Meanwhile, back at the apiary… a band of bandito raccoons settled in and ate up all of the sugar water, tore up the flowering plants I had just planted and made a mess out of the place. It reminded me of the next morning after the party in the movie “16 Candles” (Don’t laugh, it’s a great movie).
Fast forward to now….
We checked my Langstroth hive.
My seven-year-old suited up and came along too.
He soon grew worried and took refuge under the bench.
One of the frames in the newly added super (box) was getting filled up with honey and the replaced frame in the brood area was filling up with capped brood just as they were supposed to be.
The bottom super was again filled to the point of crowding.
There were lots of strange things. Lots of drones. Several drone cells. Some burr comb and some empty queen cells.
There were also some very interesting things, like bees hatching from their cells.
The bees had put the writing on the wall for me. They were toying with leaving. So, following all that I had read, I added frames into the brood area (baby raising box) and put some of the babies in the second, empty super (box) to show them that there was plenty of room for them to add on to their happy family and no need to run away.
I am hopeful they accept my offer of a new addition to their hive. I am wishing it to be so.
The great news is that we did see the queen and her eggs. So, no one has left yet.
Over to the top bar hive, otherwise known as the “hippy hive.” We removed the top and the newest added bar to find a row of bees peeking out at us, in their line of defense.
The bees were mellow and harmonious. The frames I had added weeks earlier all had comb on them. Even the furthest one had a small bit of comb being built.
They were building like crazy.
I did not locate the queen, but did see plenty of eggs and larvae.
Happy times! Until………
People working on rehabilitating my barn noticed a cloud of bees circling near the hives. It was about four feet in diameter. Of course, no one noticed which direction it went. I am very worried that they decided to leave. Maybe the barn construction was too loud and drove them away. Looking into the hives, there still seem to be a lot of bees. So, it could have been that they were just hot and needed some fresh air? Hopefully.
As a precautionary measure, I popped open the top bar hive and made notches in three cells with eggs hoping to encourage the nurse bees to construct some queen cells just in case the queen did leave in a swarm. With any luck, they will create a new queen. With the best of luck, the queen didn’t leave and all is well.
A little bit of honey leaked out and I tasted it… Amazing. Better than anything I have purchased at the store. So, fingers are crossed that all is well. Now I must wait. and wait. and wait to see what happens.