This weekend it got quite warm, which allowed a visit to my mentor’s beehives for my “training” session. I also checked on the status of the bees, coming from california, and the guy bringing them will have to coordinate closely with weather conditions since beekeepers want a nice warm day for installing the packages of bees into the hives.
After navigating our way to his hives, on a steep hillside behind his house, Tim explained that he had the fortunate experience of capturing a swarm in his neighbors yard on Friday and he wanted to see how they were doing. We also were on a quest to ensure his other hive was “queen right” meaning, the queen is alive and laying eggs.
We were all suited up with smoker in hand to intoxicate the bees. At times during this visit, I had to fight the instinct to start screaming and waving my arms when the bees were swirling around my head and darting at my face, which they will do to protect their hive. ahhhhmmmmm…I did my best to remember to be calm and cool. I have a bee suit on, ok, focus on the hive- wow isnt this amazing and crazy?…that’s what kept going through my head.
Tim showed me how to identify the eggs that the queen was laying (good sign) and I could see the progression of life from egg to pupae and then could see the capped over cells where a new bee would emerge. It was amazing.
I later got to handle the frames and maneuver with the hive tools (crow bar looking things) which Tim made it look so much easier to maneuver with than it actually was. Imagine: leather gloves, a metal tool in each hand and a frame full of honey bees 10 inches from your face and thousands more below in the hive, just ready for you to disturb them with one wrong move. After a few times of picking the frames up to inspect, I started getting the hang of it, but it will require much more practice before I look as comfortable as Tim did.
I did have the fortunate experience of spotting the queen! Tim was about to give up hope in seeing her, and I’d already pointed out so many drones (male bee, which is a little larger than the worker bee) that I was losing hope too. BUt, at the last minute zowee…there she was! Her body was much longer than any of the other bees, it was kind of weird looking, actually.
We checked on the other hive, containing the swarm bees, and then retreated back to the work shed. A few bees followed us, but soon departed back to their hives. We had to do a “bee check” to make sure there weren’t any on each other’s suits. I kept my suit on until I got all the way to the top of the hill, just in case.
Tim then showed me how to assemble the frames, and wax foundation, etc. He had these cool jigs that enabled “mass” production of batches of 10 frames. Very cool.
He let me borrow them and I finished my initial set of frames for each of my hives last night. I am sure my condo neighbors appreciated my hammering, but I have to be ready in case the bees come this week! I will finish the remainder of the frames for the rest of my hives over the course of the next few days.
Pics show the frame assembly.
Leave a Reply