Yesterday was a new adventure for me in the skills of beekeeping. For the first time I was able to open my hive, without Mr. Floyd’s presence. He’d said, “you ‘ll need to do it by yourself sometime…”. What he didn’t know is, I’ve been keen for this opportunity ever since my girls moved in.
After the installation of the “stranger” bees on Thursday it was necessary to observe their activity and inclination to move in with my bees. We’d put a sheet of newspaper between the strangers and the existing bees to keep them separate until the strangers picked up the sweet smell of my queen and felt compelled to join her as their own. The aim was that one group of bees would chew threw the paper, thus allowing everyone to mingle. My goal was to see if this had taken place.
I re-read the steps for preparing the smoker and opening the hive. I felt confident in my capabilities of these two tasks, no prob. I got geared up, had the smoker puffing away and my hive tool handy. I headed out to the bee yard with adoring husband, camera in hand, trailing a fair distance behind. He doesn’t own a bee suit- yet!
The first thing a beekeeper does without fail is smoke the entrance to the hive followed by lifting the top and smoking inside from the top. Got it! The smoke actually confuses the bees for a few minutes keeping them calm. My bees seem calm and not too concerned by my presence.
Next I needed to lift off the top super and see if I could spot a hole in the newspaper. Well, of course the wind was gale force at times yesterday – making my confidence in keeping the newspaper intact, weak. Adoring hubby went to get a roll of tape to help secure the sheet of newspaper. This was mighty helpful.
Once I had the paper taped down I felt secure in removing the top super and checking for this hole. I was disappointed to find the paper hole less. This caused me to wonder what exactly is happening here as there are tons of bees buzzing and working inside their home. What I still didn’t know was if the two colonies have decided to unite.
In the photo to the right I am about to lift off the super to look for holes. After discovering that there weren’t any I replaced the super and began to just observe what exactly my bees were up to. Actually I was observing the stranger bees to see if they were carrying out their bee duties. No hole
While making this observation I noticed that the stranger bees had discovered a small opening between the two supers ( supers look like boxes – mine are green). I watched many bees come and go through the small crevice. Just to be sure they were indeed getting into the super I ran my hive tool along the crevice and noted that it went all the way in; meaning they were using this as their entrance or exit as opposed to using the front door of the main hive. Crafty little creatures! Satisfied that they were sticking around I replaced the top and pondered; were the bees using this opening only stranger bees or possibly the entire colony using both the main entrance as well as their secret crevice to enter and exit. I do not know the answer. I called Mr. Floyd and he reassured me this was probably good and that later in the week I would need to open the hive again and remove the newspaper. At that time I can only hope that the stranger bees have fallen in love with the scent of my queen and will carry on their bee duties with great happiness.
Meantime at the front entrance there is evidence of foraging bees returning with pollen of many colors. I’ve noticed bright golden-yellow, pale buttery yellow and lovely lemon yellow. Mmmm mmm…can’t you just taste that sweet, sweet honey?