Sunday, June 5, 2011

Second Hive Inspection

This week went by slowly, partly because I was so anxious for Saturday to arrive.  My next hive inspection was scheduled for Saturday morning, between 10am and noon, so a lot of the bees would be out foraging and the hive would be nice and calm.  They seemed a little anxious the last time I was there in the later afternoon, so I thought I would try the morning to see how it went.

I had three helpers this time, oldest son, middle son and a friend's daughter that was at our house when the inspection time arrived.  Since I only had one extra jacket and veil, they all took turns coming up to the hive and "helping" me.

The entrance reducer was still in the hives from the original installation, so I needed to get that removed.  The bees were doing really well and the hive appeared really strong, but what do I know.  I have only had bees for two weeks!  If you click on the picture above and see the full version, you can see the one bee heading into the hive with its legs full of orange pollen.

I wasn't in such a hurry this time as the bees seemed really calm and it was a nice day, being a little cooler out.  After looking through all the frames on the first hive, I couldn't find the queen.  As was mentioned before, it isn't so important to actually see the queen as it is to see evidence of the queen.   There were lots of eggs and larva in cells, so she had been there in the last four days and done her work. That was nice to see.

As you can see from the above picture, the hives are doing well.  There are lots of bees, lots of capped brood (baby bees) and lots of honey and pollen throughout.  It was nice to see capped brood and eggs/larva in the new foundation.  Not sure if that really means anything, but it was nice as I felt it was a sign that the bees have accepted the home I have provided for them and were making themselves at home.

The second hive we were able to spot the queen.  She was busy doing her thing.  Right when I saw her, she disappeared.  There happened to be a small hole in the foundation and she went from one side of the frame to the other.  I had to flip the frame to find her again.  Seeing the queen gives a calm to the beekeeper.  Even though you can see evidence of the queen, you like to actually see her moving around on a frame.

The second hive had a minor problem.  The hive top feeder was empty.  When I added syrup to the hives last week, I didn't add near as much to the second hive because it didn't look like they had used that much.  Well they went into turbo mode this past week and cleaned the hive top feeder out.  That was kind of disappointing because I let them down and didn't give them the food they needed.  Luckily I still had some left from my last inspection so I put it all in this feeder after cleaning out the ants.  In case I didn't mention it, I had a lot of ants at the top of this hive.  They had gone up on the outside of the hive and up into the top of the hive top feeder.

I'm going to have to make some more syrup early this week and get it into both hives to make sure they have enough syrup to help them build out the comb.  Another hive body was added to each hive since they were more than 70% built up on the frames in the existing hive body.  I didn't want them to have a reason to leave, even if I hadn't done my duty and kept their feeder filled up.

Once I was done and my three helpers all had a chance to see the bees up close, it was time to close it all up and let them continue on.  As I was taking off my jacket a gentleman in a pickup drove up and stopped.  He got out and came around to talk to me.  He introduced himself as Floyd, but his friends call him Possum.  He proceeded to tell me about his garden and asked if I would keep some bees at his garden.  He has three acres that he gardens and has just about everything you can imagine planted there. He asked us to follow him to his house so he could show us his garden.  If this had been Phoenix, I would have politely declined and went on my way, but not in rural Virginia.

After driving a couple miles down the road we pulled into his place.  A small home with a couple small gardens.  He talked to us for a little bit, then we walked through a row of trees and saw the real garden.  It was 3 acres of garden!  A small pond on the other side of the trees, and a field of hay behind that.  Then he invited us into his house and gave us a jar of homemade salsa, that was incredible!  He also gave us a bag of chips to try the salsa.  He gave each of the kids a candy bar and a drink of lemonade.

During our short visit we got most of the story on Possum.  Six kids, over ten grandchildren, retired for 19 years from DuPont, wife died in 2000, got rid of the Buick station wagon and got a Monte Carlo.  After the quick life story, it was time to go.  I got his phone number and address.  He lives in Bumpass, VA.  Yes, that is really the name of the town.  He sent us on our way with the jar of salsa and a bag of chips.

By the end of the day, we had eaten almost the entire quart of salsa.  It was that good.  Now I am looking for another hive that I can put by his garden.  I don't want to move the hives I have now since I don't want to make it more difficult for me since I am just starting.  Ideally, I would get another hive or two and put it out at his garden.  An e-mail has been sent to my bee club to see if anyone would be willing to part with a hive or nuc or package of bees.  If nothing else, I will order a package online and try that method of starting a bee hive.

This bee keeping hobby sure keeps getting more and more interesting.  And you never know who or what you will stumble across out in rural Virginia.  Maybe even a Possum.

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