I finally made it thoroughly through my hive on Saturday. I also got my first sting (what a beauty)! Here are my observations:
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Weather: Overcast, breezy, Low 60s
All of the sugar candy was gone. I didn't see the queen, but I did see capped brood & larvae. There were several frames of brood in the middle, 1 frame of drone comb toward the front, but all honeycomb was empty. They were still bringing in some pollen, not as much as the week before. I had several bars cross-combed toward the front. I think I fixed some of them, but not all. I still had to detach the sides again. Maybe I need to scrape those sides clean. Also, I am thinking about a different design that I have seen lately. The top bars are longer than mine, but the box is not as deep. I think it might be easier to manage.
I did get the one sting on the side of my hand. I think the bee just flew into it. They had been crawling all over my hands with no problems. I noticed that sudden movements would cause them to fly off the comb. I did get quite a few pings on the new veil I got. I also got the new smoker and used it. I have mixed feelings about the smoker. I have read that it masks the alarm pheromone. I have also read that it causes the bees to consume their honey, thinking that they may be forced to leave because of fire, which makes them lethargic, fat and not as able to position their abdomens to sting. With this hive, there was no honey to consume, so what were they to do? I think it probably caused more stress. I probably should have gotten more stings.
In such a case as this (if not all the time) I think a sprayer mixed with water and either sugar or some organic apple cider vinegar would have had a totally different effect on the bees. They may have even welcomed it! Last season I used the water/vinegar mix I read about at the biobees.com forum, and it seemed to work better, for me anyway.
I added a wide top bar in the back of the hive with a hole to accept an inverted jar of sugar water later Saturday. I checked it Sunday afternoon and some was gone. I don't want these bees to get dependent on feeding, but I think it was necessary. This hive had a late start last year, and it was a HUGE swarm (I don't know how many pounds) that the beekeeper captured from one of his hives! My goal is to have bees that ultimately will need little if any of my intervention (intrusion), and maybe just let me have a bar or two of honey now and then. I think Sam Comfort with Anarchy Apiaries said, "Bees know what's best for bees". I agree.