A few days ago I was out for a walk along one of the many new footpaths I seem to be discovering near my home. I was chatting to Dave and Ⓓ, who had just done their inspection and wanted to talk over some things they had seen, as well as tell me about their amazing bait hive and to tell me about the existence of dandelion petal honey. While talking about that in particular, I was a bit confused for a while because I stumbled into a field with two guard llamas, who were sharing it with a horse. Suddenly encountering two llamas while already distracted can be a bit surreal. Anyway, for some time now, Dave has been saying that it won't be long before we need to put supers on our hive, and I've always said that's far too optimistic for our little colonies. In fact, he already has. Of course, I thought this was a bit premature, but looking in the hive today it turns out he was absolutely right.
What I saw was a bit of a population explosion. I had moved a frame to the north-most side and shuffled the rest along last week, and the bees had not only used this but had started building out and storing on the remaining two or three frames in the hive. I counted maybe four and a half frames of brood, including eggs, and about the same number of stores. That's a lot of increase in a week. There was also drone brood, and some wacky-looking comb bulging out on one of the frames which I think also must have drone brood in it. Regular readers will recall that my bees don't quite like to keep to the flat frame design, but I don't see that this matters much. I did break off a bit of burr comb — never a popular move but it at least keeps some semblance of order.
What also prompted this was the sight of some cells which, while not queen cups, were starting to look 'cuppy'. I counted about three of these distributed over the frames, so perhaps one or two of these were just odd drone brood, but they didn't look like peanut-like supersedure cells, though I suppose if our theory that they made an emergency queen last autumn then perhaps at some point they'd want to make a real one. They weren't hanging from the edge of the frames like swarm cells do, either. With the massive increase in brood, I guess that swarming isn't an immediate threat, but I knew I could reduce congestion pretty simply. They have a nice ventilated hive, too, with the front door off and the bottom board removed.
While I was inspecting, my dad's friend was out driving around and tinkering with old tractors, leaving his Massey 135 to idle nearby for about half an hour. I've heard from many people that bees hate vibrations, and they did seem a bit grumpier today as a result. I hope the new space makes up for it.
In general, things look very good, and everyone I chat to seems to be getting excited at the prospect of honey later in the year. I'm just happy to see them buzzing around at the front of the hive.
The next job is get out the hammer and nails and finish that nuc and get it down to the apiary on the offchance that the local swarm collectors are ready to give me a swarm to home.
Framefuls of stores
Frames available for brood
Temper / docility
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