Saturday, August 1, 2009

one proud beek.

My cousin Missy came out today to meet the bees. Some other friends of mine are interested in the bees, so I told them to come out as well for a visit to see the hive. I had M's jacket with veil, which my cousin could wear. Melissa opted to stay in the living room with their baby (the observation window!) and Jim wore long sleeves and a hat. I had a mesh bag he could use as a temporary veil, but he decided to skip it.

I got the smoker lit, and explained that while it was good to have going, I doubted that we would need it. Despite the hive being handled a couple of days ago, the bees had been in a pleasant mood as I watered and worked around the garden. We had some heavy racoon activity here last night (including the racoons using one of the bees water dishes for their filthy paws!) but the bees seemed undisturbed. I also walked them through, verbally, what I planned to do, and gave them bee brushing jobs.

The telescoping cover came off easily, and the inner cover came off with gentle prying from the hive tool. The big question: Had the swarm been accepted into Urania? Were the bees cleaning the mold off the drawn comb? What was the overall mood of the hive?

I'm pleased to report that it appears the swarm has blended in perfectly to Urania. The newest honey super was full of activity. The bees have drawn new comb on to the outsides of the frames. I carefully removed one frame and took a look. Each cell had a deposit of unripe honey in it, beautifully catching the sunlight in a hundred reflections. (very much like this!) I showed Jim and Missy the frame. Jim was impressed by the sheer number of bees. The bees were ignoring us, they didn't even change their tone as the hive was opened. We could see several bees with their heads deep in the cells, something that still delights me. I don't know why bee butts are so funny!

Once I nestled the frame back in, I decided not to remove any. (The top super has nine frames in it, the other two have eight.) I didn't want to worry about removing bees from a frame of immature honey, or how to store a single frame for cleaning without attracting ants. (oh! Did not see any ants in the super either, good girls!) I then moved the entire super to the table to get a look at the super added in July.

This super was much more processed. As far as I could tell, the majority of it is capped and mature honey. I carefully pried one frame out, and lifted it from the super. As I did, honey comb at the bottom broke, causing a small waterfall of honey to pour forth. "Stick out your fingers, this is honey!" Jim wasted no time :) - much easier for him without the veil on! I used a hive tool to capture a bit for him to take to Mel inside. I took a taste a bit later, and I think it's got a slightly more amber-y taste than the last batch. Absolutely delicious, just a bit different.

One bee jumped at the easy meal on my frame grip. I showed Missy and Jim how she was using her proboscis to capture the honey. I also pointed out that she was interested in honey only, that even with me pointing at her and waving her around, she never made a defensive mood. I waited until she had her fill before setting the tool down. Once I had freed my hands, I put the hive back together. Missy was excellent on bee brush patrol. :)

Mel did get some photos on her camera. It was too tempting not too - M's jacket was just a bit oversized on Missy. ;)

Once dusk set in we all walked out and put our ears up to the hive to hear the contented buzzing of a healthy hive.

I'm so proud of the bees. They are endlessly cool and forever fascinating. They give far more than they take. I'm grateful to their gentle and quiet behavior today while meeting people that haven't spent much time around bees before. I'm really impressed by how calm Missy and Jim were while being surrounded by thousands of bees. And clearly, a new harvest is coming soon!


  1. I was curious as to the ripening process, and found this article. Thought I'd ask you about the level of accuracy, since they could tell me pretty much anything and I'd be clueless.

  2. As far as I know, the info is right, but they are going overboard on some detail and ignoring others. I much prefer this explanation:

    It captures the way bees collect nectar, how they transfer it to other bees (a field bee does not store the honey, a house bee does that). It also talks about honey evaporation by bees beating it with their wings.

    I tell you - I can't wrap my mind around how much work went into those five gallons of honey. And to think we are ready to harvest again!

    The amazing thing - no one has been able to make honey in an artificial setting. This delights me.