Thursday, April 9, 2009

Urania hive +14 hours.

Based on the advice of one of the Beekeeping Guild members, we placed a Queen Excluder between the bottom board and the brood super to prevent the Queen from swarming before the workers had a chance to lay down comb and set up a house. The Guild members starting a new hive with drawn comb - but if you are a new beekeeper - where do you get your drawn comb from? So we're starting with new comb, which is the bee equivalent of a fixer-upper.

This morning we decided to punch some more holes in the sugar syrup can and free the Queen from her cage. When we did we saw why the excluder isn't a great idea. Bees, known for being very good housekeepers, can not pull dead or injured bees out. We pulled the excluder out and left it to the side so any live bees had the time to get off of it and re-join the hive. The weather is cool, overcast, and lightly sprinkling, and we did start to wear the bees patience. You really can hear their moods.

The flat, stainless steel top was covered in droplets of water from the fog. There were some yellow streaks in the water (pollen? waste? etc?) and a few dead bees lying on top. Using a bee brush made from some stalks of lemon balm, I brushed them off. As we watched, a few that landed on the top seemed to trip, land on their backs, and either struggle or right themselves. Curious.

A large group of bees were found on their bee package (we left it near the entrance last night so the final few could find their way in). They were huddled as if keeping warm, and I wondered if they couldn't get in due to the excluder. Weird. Hopefully this resolves itself today.

They were quiet this morning, and are settling down after we messed with them. Now - we leave them alone until Sunday. Sunday we'll pull out the Queen cage and add the last frame back in. And then we leave them alone for awhile.

I also dribbled oil on the bars that support the hive to keep the ants away.

Think that about sums it up - I'm too much in the worried stage and not enough in the fun stage right now, though working with them today was not as terrifying as yesterday. Time for me to get to the train. Thank goodness for my incredibly flexible job!

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