Monday, July 18, 2011

Bees in Possum's Garden - The "Bee Beard"

The hive in Possum's garden has been doing great. It quickly drew out the comb in the second deep hive body. Starting a few weeks after the original two hives, this hive has caught up and is basically at the same point of growth, or filling, or whatever they call what hives do when they progress.

Part of its progress may be due to the 3 acre garden that Possum has going on right outside the front door of the bee hive.

This picture only shows a portion of the garden.

What a delicious view the bees see every morning. Watermelons well on their way to 50+ pounds, canteloupes that are ripening in the midday sun, rows of beans that snap to attention when picked, and rows of squash, among other succulent items. As this post get diverted from the topic of bees, it seems appropriate to show you one of the by products of keeping bees next to a garden.

More squash than we can eat, and all the green beans I can pick, or we can accept from Possum. He is more than generous with his garden bounty, and we do appreciate it, as "bountiful" is not a word that comes to mind when describing our garden, unless you are talking about the grass growing in our garden and over taking the veggies. But I digress. Back to the bees.

Last week as I was heading to the hive at Possum's garden, I drove by the original hives and the front of the hives was dark with bees. They were forming a beard under the front lip of the hive.

Bees clinging together forming a "bee beard" under the hive entrance.

Not knowing whether this was a good thing or bad thing, I sent out the pictures to one of the bee keepers in my bee club. The word that came back was good. It was a sign of a strong hive during hot and humid weather. The "excess bees" in the hive go outside the hive to help keep the heat and humidity down inside the hive. No more fear, all is good.

To keep from turning this post into a novel, I'll wrap up the final hive comments quickly. Since all three hives have drawn out comb on all the foundation in both of their deep hive bodies, I removed the hive top feeders and added a queen excluder and a medium honey super to each hive. It is late in the season, but most of the experienced bee keepers at the bee club say it is the best year since the early 90's. They felt if the consistent rains keep coming, I may get some comb and even some honey before fall. That would allow the bees to start filling the comb with honey right away next spring, instead of having to put a lot of effort into first building out the comb.  That is why, as everyone knows, or as I am told, comb is golden!

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