As I detailed in my last post, we installed our first package of bees on April 30th. After our installation, we weren’t sure whether the queen survived her accidental early release. We did our first nervous check in the late afternoon of May 4th. We just opened the hive long enough to get a peek and take out the empty queen box (the only reason we hung it in between the frames like you would if there was a queen in there was because it was covered with bees at the time). We didn’t remove frames but they were hanging out on the right side of the hive, which was getting the most direct sun, and looked like they were drawing out comb. It was chilly that day with a high of 60 and had been rainy the day before. They were very docile, and didn’t take much notice that we were even there. We closed up the hive quickly and let them do their thing.
The next mini-check was Wednesday, May 8th. I think most beekeepers wouldn’t advocate for frequent checks before two weeks but I was really nervous about checking for any obvious signs of an absent queen. I was not present at this check but my husband and our neighbor examined them and even got some photos for me! (I was on my way to Atlanta for a conference for work).
Chris excitedly texted me “they have honey in there and some dark yellow comb” and said they were “drawing out comb like crazy.” They had continued to move across the hive and were on the first three frames. So that was a good sign.
We did a “two week check” on Tuesday. They’ve drawn comb on about five full frames, and we pulled out the first frame to get a look. I think I saw some larvae and eggs, as did Chris, and there was some capped honey and lots of nectar and pollen! The key to this observation is that if there are larvae and eggs – we have a queen. The bees were rather cranky and defensive and Chris got stung – which I felt bad about, but his protective jacket and gloves that he, in a dubious show of bee-macho-manism, thought he “wouldn’t need” are on their way from the beekeeping supplier. I think we also need to get our smoker really going before we delve in. It had just started smoking and they weren’t really too bothered by it, so next time we are really going to get it going. I noticed the other day it seemed to be working much better when we had set it aside and were done with it. I didn’t get any photos of this because Chris was getting stung and he was wearing my gloves, so I didn’t feel like getting my hands in there unprotected at that moment.
In any case, this was not technically a correct full inspection as we wimped out and just checked the first frame. Most beekeepers would tell you that you need to check each and every frame and look for the queen and larvae, etc. on each frame as well as have a purpose in opening the hive. I don’t expect a ton of eggs or larvae on the recently drawn out comb but who knows, it could be there too. I am pleased that so far, they are using the Duragilt foundation that I wasn’t so sure about (after I’d bought it, of course) and working away. We are still feeding them a 1:1 syrup of sugar water and will keep right on feeding for the next month or so. Every time we’ve been out there at the garden to water or lay down mulch, we’ve seen the bees bringing in bucketfuls of pollen and foraging very busily. Truly amazing creatures.
I hope they like the home we picked out for them.
There is an amazing diversity of plant species in this community garden space.
Our garden, which is fully planted and thriving, is mulched and about 8 feet away from the hive. I didn’t take any photos of our garden . . . did I mention I am not good at remembering to take photos?