Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Weekly Hive Check

Victor is in love with my bees. It's not why you might think. In his own quiet way Victor is a free spirit. He doesn't buy into doing things a 'certain way' because 'it's the way it's always been done'. He appreciates people who are living 'outside the box' and doesn't want to be put in one himself. This is where we get to the bee part . . . my bees continue to build comb in ways they are not supposed to, and Victor thinks it's wonderful!

When Victor and I were married on the beach in Florida we wrote our own vows. There is a line in what I wrote that reads: "Victor, I am not a neat house keeper, I am not organized, and I can be a little feisty. But I can promise you this: I promise you my faithfulness. I promise to love, honor, respect and cherish you . . . " Maybe the bees just knew. (Let's just hope they don't adopt my feistiness!) Maybe they've flown by and seen the inside of my house and have adapted the same philosophy: There are way too many things to do in the beautiful outdoors right now to worry too much about how tidy the inside of the house looks. 

When I went into the hives, both hives have multiple frames with odd looking burr comb that is actually attached to the foundation towards the top. It's a royal mess. I was able to pull the frames out, and they certainly seemed happy enough, so . . . I left it there. 

The good news is, my bees seem to be loving and caring for their young in spite of it all (just like me)! They had capped brood, larvae and freshly laid eggs. They are working on both sides of four frames, so next week I will be putting on the next brood chamber, as I have eight frame hives rather than the standard ten frames. 

The tricky part is determining when to put on your next brood chamber. Generally the queen lays in the bottom two large boxes of a bee hive. When your bees have drawn out comb (this is for empty foundation) on 6 of the 8 frames (in my case) or 8 of 10 frames for those who have a traditional 10 frame box, it's time to add on another brood chamber. My bees (now working on four frames) have been working on about 2 frames a week, so by my next hive check I should be ready to put on the next chamber. 

The interesting thing that I learned is that on the one hand, the bees may not build out frames 1 & 8 (sometimes bees aren't fond of building out the outside edge frames) it is important if you are putting empty foundation in the next brood chamber, for the bees to start working on building out comb up there. Because if they run out of foundation and the queen has no place to lay eggs (because the bees haven't had time to build out comb on the new foundation in the upper box) the bees will swarm. Not what you want if you want honey, and I do! And who wants a swarm? Not me. 

A word of thanks to my friend and fellow bee keeper Diane. I'd called her about an hour before going into my hives in a panic because my bees in the right hive were going bonkers. A large quantity of them were 'flying in place' right in front of their hive and making a loud buzzing noise. I had read that this might be an 'orientation flight' where bees that are 'graduating' to forager take orientation flights to get the hang of things before they are released on their own. But of course I was worried and called Diane. As usual, she set my mind at ease. "Do you need me?" she asked. No I was fine, I said. 

As I was starting my smoker, fully clad in my bee suit, who pulls into my driveway? Diane. Dear sweet thing, she was driving by there area on her way home and just thought she should check on me. I loved it. Because I was about to go in the hives she threw on Victor's veil and Benjamin's gloves and observed. It was wonderful to have her there to encourage me and confirm that I should just leave that crazy burr comb in the frames. Thank you Diane!

1 comment:

GE is me said...

I am really enjoying reading/hearing about your bees. It doesn't always all make sense to me, but I'm still enjoying it. :)