After an unpleasant experience this week moving a hive, full details of which will appear in tomorrow's edition, it was lovely to spend a calm Sunday morning with the humans and bees of our own apiary.
At Dan's recommendation, today I am ordering a BBWear Ultra Bee Suit. Now that it's clear we'll be keeping bees here for the foreseeable future, and with experience showing that it's not just our bees we'll be working with, it seemed prudent to order a suit which could cover a wide variety of situations.
For this inspection, however, I opted for nitrile gloves and a tunic. I think despite the fact I have a hornet-proof suit coming, this will be my beekeeping clothing of choice. Going back to nitrile gloves meant I could much more easily manipulate the frames, with the bees at much less risk of being squashed or surprised. In general I'm not sure a tunic is adequate, but for Colony 1 at the moment, it's great.
When we arrived in the sunny wood, the bees were buzzing around the hive. Getting closer, Dan noticed that there was a beautiful European hornet on the side of the hive. There are anti-vespid defences in the form of the Wasp Out, but the bees were understandably spooked. Anyway, the hornet flew off before we opened up the hive.
Inside, the bees have still not touched the sugar syrup. At all. Dan and I think perhaps it's time to offer them some fondant, but it might also be that now they have about five and a half frames of stores they are simply less in need of the sugar. In any case, we will remove the feeder and replace it with fondant this week. A benefit of this is that we can reduce the size of their hive, which makes it easier to defend and thermoregulate.
Inside, we noticed laying had reduced a bit but the larvae and eggs were still there and still healthy. Some of the capped honey is darker now, and Dan noticed a wide range of pollen coming back, including some shiny, red, almost globular, pollen in the corbiculae of one bee. The variety of pollen the colony collects is amazing.
So, not much to report inside the hive. Dan pulled out the varroa tray and we saw some mites on the board. Not many, but mites nonetheless. This validated our choice to complete the course of Apiguard, even though we could tell the bees weren't particularly happy with their medicine.
The colony seems to go from strength to strength. We'll keep focusing on those stores, but all seems well.