I went into the hives again yesterday, and it was a treasurable experience. The bees were so calm that I was half-tempted to try working the hives without any protective gear. As it was, Courtney, my sis, and her hubby basically did just that. They were right there with me, and while they were not pulling out frames, they were close enough to basically be in the hives as well. It was incredible to say the least, and lots of good photos (thanks to my wondrous photographer wife for that).
This isn’t from yesterday, but it’s a great shot of a very busy day in front of the hives.
We put a water source out back (a bird bath with rocks to stand on). Here’s a great shot of some bees drinking up the water. They’ll use the water to cool the hive and adjust the moisture levels for brood and honey. Check out the mouth structures.
This is from the first hive. I didn’t check the spacing on the second brood box, which encouraged the bees to build this blade-like structure of comb. I ended up pulling it out to encourage them to build a more appropriate comb. There was some nectar in this comb, which we all enjoyed (tasty!).
Here’s a frame of brood from that first hive. This is the hive that I was worried about as far as the pattern goes. You can’t quite see the pattern, but it is spotty again. I talked to Chris (a pseudo-mentor who has been very helpful) about the frame, and we both think it is just a hyper-hygienic queen. This hive has exploded from 5 frames to over 15 in only two weeks, so it’s very hard for us to think this is a bad queen. If she is hyper-hygienic, that would explain the spottiness. It’s a little disconcerting still, but the strength of this hive argues against any worry.
Oh, and I did happen to find the queen (marked), and we watched her lay an egg. Pretty amazing.
This is from the second hive. Notice how this brood pattern is much tighter than the first hive. This is more of what is expected. Oddly enough, this hive is still only five frames, meaning that it has not expanded much at all. Talking to Chris about it, we both came to the conclusion that this hive just didn’t survive some of the recent cold snaps as well as the first. I was able to see tons of eggs in cells, which is a great sign, and I have no worries for this hive. Thanks to the quick eyes of my brother-in-law, we were able to spot the queen in this hive as well. Black as night that one, and very beautiful.
Second hive again. Notice how dark these bees are. Classic Carniolan coloring.
Like I said, this last visit to the hives was treasurable. They were so gentle and mild and just fun to work with. I was especially glad to share the day with family and show them the wonders of these creations. My personal favorite of the day was that evening. I returned to the hives with a good friend, and we sat about three feet away listening to the peaceful hum of these miraculous creatures, talking of life, and just being witnesses to how incredible this world truly is.
The Lord prompted us to move faster than we thought possible to get bees this year. My first thought was that we needed them for the honey harvest and Courtney’s sugar allergy. However, the more I work with them, the more I’m realizing that I needed them for me. I’m a better person because of them. I’m a stronger person. I’m a more faithful person.
Maybe odd to say it, but it feels that life has infinitely more meaning now that I’m such a close witness to the comings and goings of our bees.
Sigh… I can see how this little hobby of mine could eventually spin completely out of control. 🙂