Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Roaring Of The Bees

Have you ever heard a bee roar? Did you even know they could? Granted, one bee roaring would not be very intimidating. But thousands of them going off all at once? They can get your attention. Yesterday Kristine came over and helped me do a hive check. The bees were behaving more defensively than usual. We wanted to see what they were up to. The weather was up close to the 80's so we figured it was a good day to dismantle the hive and peek into all the boxes. No chance the brood would be chilled when it's hot like an oven outside. The very top box is mostly filled with honey (they are getting their winter pantry stocked) but there was also a small amount of brood up there. We removed that box (box 5) and set it on the lawn. The next box was heavy with bees, brood, and food. When I had to lift it, to set it on the lawn, I was very thankful I decided to go with 8 frame medium boxes. You'd be surprised how heavy a box of bees can be. Box 3 was where we ran into problems. We found 5 queen cups along the bottom of a middle frame. This meant, at some point, the bees were preparing to swarm. Why? Who knows? They've always had plenty of expansion room. Perhaps we were a bit tardy (to their thinking) with adding a new box? Or maybe they were unhappy that I had the entrance reducer on for so long? In any event, Queen cups were not what we wanted to see. We scraped them off and are hoping that the bees have since changed their minds. Up until this point the bees hadn't been any crankier than normal, it seemed. But once we removed that 3rd box it was as if someone had turned their volume control WAY up. They were roaring mad. Someone was not only rearranging their furniture...but dismantling their whole house. We quickly checked into the remaining 2 boxes. Then reassembled the hive, replacing the boxes in the order they were removed. We placed my 6th (and final) box on top and closed the hive back up. I am hoping that will be all the room they require. As it is, I will need a small ladder or step stool in order to climb up and look into that top box. My hive is pretty tall. I cannot believe how that original 3 pound box of bees has turned into this huge colony. That queen is truly a baby making machine.

I thought that was that. At least for a few weeks. So yesterday evening my husband decides we are going to Home Depot to get the lumber to make the last 2 dummy frames for the hive. He had only made 4, which means those last 2 boxes have gaps on the east side. Once at the lumber store we get to talking about the requirements and it becomes clear he did not make notes when he built the first 4. "But you have an extra box I can take measurements from, right?" Um, no. (I had just placed the last box on). Dang.

You know what's coming, don't you?

Today I once again donned the bee suit, removed the top 2 boxes, retrieved a dummy board, shook off the bees, took it over to the husbeast to measure, placed it back into the hive box & reassembled the hive. I'm sure the bees were thrilled to see me.

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