Wall-to-wall sugar haul

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


Well, I wanted a mild autumn, and if today's weather lasts, oh, I don't know, another month, I should think we'll be all right. With bee suits made from polycotton, today's 24°C heat felt a bit much for some, but it turned out to be another surprising inspection.

Firstly, B saw the queen, right there on the central frame again. I might be imagining it, but she's a bit bigger this week. There are no signs of eggs, but that would be expecting a bit much this week, I think. There are no signs of queen cells either.

The bees had consumed very little of the feed from yesterday, and looking into the hive, the reason was clear. Every nook and every cranny is filled with sugar, nectar or honey. Of course, the warm weather may have brought more forage, but, like all that syrup in the rapid feeder, there's just nowhere to put that either. Frames have been extended to make room for yet more, so there's burr and brace come all over the place, often just dripping with the stuff. The smoker wasn't staying lit for very long, and I had no way to disperse the bees, so, like a coward, I put the frames back. I didn't like how some of the bees were sitting on my hands menacingly. I'll probably regret this next week as I tear apart that beautiful comb by pulling it out. But the lack of smoker wasn't too big of a deal generally. We just took our time and did it methodically.

Usually during these inspections I'm off in my own thoughts, so it was good that Dave made the suggestion of making a bit more room by putting one of the unused frames between the full-up five we have now. An empty frame was put between frames 3 and 4. I hope in the week before the next inspection, some of the workers will at least draw out some of that comb to use for laying. I know this place has its opponents, usually arguing that the bees — especially in a small colony like this one — need to keep their brood space compact and in line with what they can physically do, and they know what they're doing. But there is simply no room left for anything — stores or brood — so I went ahead and did it. If any beekeepers are reading this, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts, even — especially — if I'm doing it wrong.

An inspection of Dave and D's hive brought the happy news that drones aren't being evicted just yet, and the queen has a dating pool. Brood is in all stages of development in that colony, and the bees had only the slightest touch of grumpiness today.

Next week, with a bit of smoke and a bit of courage, I'll try to remove that brace comb. D suggested fitting mouse guards and we all agreed its probably time for the Apiguard. I'm also already very keen to know what they did with that empty fourth frame.

Queen seen?Queen cellsBroodframefuls of stores# available frames for broodHealthEstimated mitesTemper / docilityFeed given# supers addedWeather
C1✔ fairly sure056L80024°C ☀