Monday, May 24, 2010

A really odd thing happened yesterday and I hope that my beekeeping friends will send comments.

It happened about 5.30pm.  David and I were watching the bees busy at their hives.  I noticed a very large insect climbing up the side of the Boardman type feeders I've been using (they are made in Greece, Manolis!).  It was a worker bee using it's two hindmost legs to pull the queen bee up the feeder!  I know for sure that it was Artemis's queen because she had a bright blue dot on her thorax.  Geez, is this bad news or what?

I fired up the smoker and put on my bee gear as quickly as I could.  I opened the hive.  The top brood box was very lightly populated with bees - hardly any cells drawn out from the wax foundation.

I lifted the top box off.  The bottom box was packed full!  Bees on almost every surface!

Not really knowing exactly what to do I took the second, third, eighth, and ninth frames out of the top brood box.  Then I removed the second, third, eighth and ninth frames out of the crowded bottom box and switched them around.  My thought was that if there are some frames with honey (beautiful capped honey!) in the less crowded top box the bees would become more active up there, relieve the crowding in the bottom box and thus make the bottom box a bit roomier for the queen to return.

I checked Demeter next.  The bees have been far busier in the top box.  There was some nice drawn comb with honey in it.  There had been a minor violation of "bee space" - two frames stuck together.  I pulled them apart and scraped the comb off with my hive tool, saving the comb for dissection later.  I found the queen in the bottom box, apparently happy and healthy.

One worker bee tried to sting me through my glove.  I could see her struggling.  Then she pulled away, flying off and leaving the stinger behind.  Poor little bee.  Emma the Airedale was watching as all this was going on, lying on the grass about six feet away from Demeter.  The bees were flying about her head and she started snapping at them.  She was stung a couple of times and retreated down the pathway along the side of the house to safety.

David was making a video of all this and had to dodge a few bees himself.  Luckily no stings for him!  What a sport!

I'll check Artemis in a few days after things settle down a bit.  I hope the queen is still there.  I guess this is another good reason to not squish found queen cells.  If Artemis's queen is gone another queen could take her place.  I think there were some queen cells - tiny ones - don't know for sure.

I'd appreciate any comments from my more experienced beekeeping friends.

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