First sting of the season and updates on the bees

Last night I was feeling pretty frustrated. Just angry. So I went out to sit by the bees to relax. One of my favorite things in the summer is to sit outside, read a good book, and watch the world drift into twilight. I especially like doing that out by the bees.

So I sat down with my book and a drink and was just started to relax when… ZOT! Right on the cheek!

So much for relaxing….

I was hoping to make it through the season without a sting, but I’m also glad to get one. I am slightly swollen on my cheek, a little itchy, and warm, but I’m not having the bad reactions like I was at other times.

Back to the bees in general. I took a month off to just not worry about the bees. I was glad for it. I needed the break to reset and figure out what I wanted to do.

I was out there a week and a half ago, though, and I did a few things:

Hive 1

Hive 1 is doing pretty good. They are the second strongest hive and seem to be adjusting to the new queen well.

Hive 2

Hive 2 is, as usual, pretty similar to 1 but smaller.

Hive 3

This is where it starts to get interesting…. If you remember, I had suspected that I had a laying worker in this hive. That turned out to NOT be the case, which I’m glad for, but I had done a split to try and isolate that worker. What I did was I moved the hive itself back about 5 feet and put an empty hive in the old location. All the foragers returned to that hive and the nurse bees (including an egg-laying worker) stayed in the moved hive, which I promptly named Hive Stupid.

A few days later, I went and added a queen cell from Hive 2 to Hive 3 hoping that they’d raise her and just go. Then, I could take care of Hive Stupid when I felt like it.

When I looked into Hive 3 the other day, they had done… nothing. Not even drawn out comb. There were quite a few bees in there (I’d say close to 25,000), but no queen, no eggs, no drawn comb, nothing.

Instead of losing those bees, I decided I would combine Hive 3 back onto Hive 1 and Hive 2. I gave Hive 2 the fuller of the two boxes from Hive 3. I placed a sheet of newspaper between the two boxes, put a couple of slits in the paper, and walked away. I will see what happened on Saturday! Hopefully my first two attempts at combing where both successful. Looking at the bees from the outside, I noticed a population jump, so I’m assuming yes, although that may be from the first brood hatching from the new queens.

Thus ends the days of Hive 3.

Hive Stupid

And thus is the rebirth of Hive 3!

I moved Hive Stupid, now Hive 3, into the spot where Hive 3 had once stood. Going through that hive, I found eggs, larvae, brood, and a very active and healthy hive. This hive (old Hive 5… trust me… the numbering makes sense for me…) has always been doing really well, so I wasn’t surprised. I was surprised, however, to see, once again, no evidence of egg-laying workers. None.

I may do a bit more than I usually do in my inspection this coming Saturday with this hive. I want to really look through it and see what is going on.

One general concern I have about all my hives is that the hives themselves are seriously disorganized at this point. I just have not even tried to help them keep any organization. Pretty much every box has honey, brood, and pollen. There is no solid brood nest and no solid honey storage. They have brood and they have honey, but there’s just no organization.

I plan on trying to remedy that on Saturday, probably just one hive at a time. I bought some queen excluders, which I’ve never used, early this spring because I noticed this disorganization starting last year. Hopefully this will help some with that.

My plan is, starting with Hive 3, which was once Hive Stupid, which was once Hive 3, which was once Hive 5… No really… It actually does make sense in my head…. Anyway, I plan on starting with Hive 3, tearing the hive apart as much as possible and moving the heaviest brood frames down, the heaviest honey frames up, and then making sure the queen is low and throwing on the excluder. Between the two sides, I will make sure to put enough empty frames to give plenty of expansion room.

If Hive 3 goes well, I may do that to Hive 2 and 1 on the same day, but I recognize my limitations, especially now that I’m largely doing this alone.

As for my general malaise for beekeeping from earlier… I just don’t know what to say. I still want to do it. I was out watering the blueberries in front of the hive a week or so ago, and I had this surge of desire to keep going. The next day, I could have sold them all. In fact, I tried to. Last night, I could have taken a can of Raid to all of them for the sting! 🙂

So I just don’t know. My dad told me to just push through the summer and figure it out then. I think that’s wise. There’s enough going on in life right now that I’d do better to NOT make some of those life-changing decisions just yet.

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