Monday, June 3, 2013

Exercising My Senses

It has been too rainy here lately... Well, not in general.  We did have a drought in Minnesota last year, so we need all the moisture we can get.  For our bees, it's another story.  They can't fly in the rain, so they are forced to stay in the hive.

We had a cloudy afternoon without rain over the weekend, so Mr. Bee and I ran out to check our new feeders and take a peek at the inside of the hives. I really noticed the sounds and smells of the hives this time.

My First In-Flight Bee Photo - I love it.

Coming in for a Landing - I love this shot, too!
Through my camera lens, I saw a lot of pollen coming into both hives. This isn't shown in the photo above, but believe me, it was there.

Mr. Bee
Mr. Bee is proud of his work to correct a problem we had with the Pro-Feeders. We had too many bees drowning and the size we chose left too much space between the remaining frames. Mr. Bee did a lot of thinking and came up with this:

Our New Feeders
This is sort of like a Boardman feeder, except it it built on a board that covers the entire hive.  The bees can get to it from inside, there is no drowning, we can check and replace syrup with little disturbance, we can cover the syrup from possible snatchers, and the temperature stays more consistent (in the cold nights we've been having) because of the temp of the hive.  I am so proud!

A View Through the Feeder

I could really smell the smoke for the hives and just stood, for a moment, listening to the hum of the busy hives. Here is a view of what we saw when we opened the North hive:
A View from Above the North Hive

During an inspection, we may pull out any or all of these frames to see what the bees are doing.
I was especially excited to catch my first view of capped brood - a stage the growth where eggs turn to larvae, and then are capped over to grow until they finally emerge as a honey bee. Below I have a photo of my first glance at capped honey cells. When I lifted up these frames, I smelled the honey, so sweet.  It was really exciting.

Capped Honey Comb, A Good Sign
The South hive has some messed up spacing.  When I pulled one of the frames, a chunk of honeycomb fell off and the honey dripped right onto the adjacent frames.  This was amazing: the bees are so very careful with the honey - their food - that they immediately circled around to clean it up.

What stuck out to me about this hive was the "buzz" - it was much louder this time. This hive has consistently been very grumpy about our inspections.  It could be a result of a grumpy queen, but we'll be keeping our eyes on things to make sure they're not stressed. Regardless, they were taking turns flying towards my face and hands.  I have to admit I finished a bit faster than I expected because it started making me nervous.
Saving the Spilled Honey
It was a little stressful trying to figure out how to help the South hive, mostly because we really want them to do well. Trial and error, we keep thinking... this is how we will learn.

The end of the inspection was the most sweet:

Mr. Bee and Me, Our first taste of the Honey
We got out first taste of the honey! I've had a lot of honey in my life, and I always enjoy it, but this seemed to be the sweetest honey I've ever tasted.  Perhaps it was because it was really sweet and light honey, or perhaps it was because we have put so much energy into this.  It was wonderful.

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