Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bee Check - 9 Days In Hive

This MooseBoots journey, my path toward building the required skill set to live in concert with the Earth Mother, symbolically culminating in the making of a pair of moose boots with leather that I tanning, consistantly illustrates just how much I have to learn.  Each year, we strive to learn new skills and develop more environmentally appropriate habits.  Today, I checked the beehive and was reminded again of the difference between reading a book and learning a skill and the actual application of the knowledge.

The tasks for today were:

  • Remove the queen cage that I should have removed a week ago.
  • Check to see that they are building comb.
  • Check for eggs or larva in comb.

So my agenda set, I enlisted the aid of Big Little Sister.  We went out and removed the roof without incident.  Then, we move the follower board away from the build area which opened up one bar of space.  No stings ... OK.  Next, each bar was slid toward the open area.  We reached the last bar, where the queen cage was attached, and removed it.  The bees had started building comb on the cage itself.  Sorry, guys, but it has got to go.  I sent Big Little sister in for some pliers to pull the cage.  Now, let me note that I am still currently and planning on working with the hive without the standard protective gear.  That said, I am still a bit nervous around the bees (this is a budding relationship) and did not want to move them by hand.  While I waited, I used a stick to push the bees out of the way.  Pliers in hand, I removed the cage and a mass of bees with it.  This I placed off to the side and put the bar back into the hive.  Remove the queen cage - CHECK.  No Stings.

Then, as I slid the bars back into place one by one, I inspected them.  They have a fairly impressive comb started on one bar and another slightly less impressive comb on another.  I use the word impressive only as a relative term - it is all very impressive as I do not have the skills, physically or intellectually, to make wax and build comb.  Of course, with each bar, there were many bees.  Check for comb - CHECK.  No Stings.

While viewing each comb, I did a scan for eggs and larva.  It is early in the comb building stage and the combs were covered in bees.  Again, I did not care to rile up the bees and let them hang out where they were.  That said, I did not see either eggs or larva.  Check for eggs and larva - CHECK.  No Stings.

Unfortunately, I did not have the camera with me and do not have picture of the operation.  Here are some pictures I took afterwards.  You can see that they are starting to spread out as compared with the last pictures.  If you look closely at the second picture, you can see the queen cage that was removed and placed in the hive for the bees to retain anything they want and to put the attached bees back in the hive.  The third is a picture of the comb built on the queen cage - one of the cells even has pollen stored in it.

I count this visit as a success.  This week I did read a bit and found it recommended to check the state of the hive by watching the entrance - what a great idea.  This morning, I recognized a bees arriving back at the hive with her pollen sacks full.  Amazing.  I have also been keenly aware of the activity level of the hive with relation to the weather.  I guess it pays to open your eyes and really see the world around you.  Of course, that is what this MooseBoots journey is all about.

1 comment:

  1. What I notice in the pictures is that there are significantly fewer bees around the feeder jar, which I guess is a good sign - means they're finding something else to eat ... right?

    Personally, even though I haven't been stung recently, I'm still a bit nervous back there - especially on sunny, warm days when the bees are more active ;).


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