I am thoroughly enjoying my bees. It is amazing how they function as a busy, thriving community. Last evening I noticed something different at the hive. The front of the hive was covered with bees and there was a 6-8″ “beard” of bees hanging down from the entrance. I wasn’t sure if they were just “chillin’ out” on the front porch after a hot, humid day or getting ready to swarm. I called Bill Kimmich, the owner of the hive, and left a message on his answering machine-just to be safe.
The “beard” is a solid mass of buzzing, crawling bees all attached to each other. Can you imagine the weight of that mass on the bees at the lip of the entrance. How do they hang on? It is also amazing they don’t suffocate the ones underneathe. Looks like a lot of “togetherness” to me, not much cooling off!
This morning I checked the hive and everything looked “normal” again.
A little later in the morning, Bill and his wife stopped by and checked on the hive. After suiting up and lighting the smoker, he took the telescoping top and top feeder off and examined the super. It is almost full of honey. The frames and foundations were covered with busy bees who almost didn’t even seem to be bothered by being lifted from the hive and examined.
Smoker lit and ready to use.
Bill carefully lifted each frame out of the hive, turning each over and examined them, looking for the queen and signs of trouble such as hive beetles or mites. To clear bees off of a spot he wanted to examine he would use the smoker to put a poof of smoke in the area. The bees immediately cleared the spot.
Notice the full cells of honey.
Cleaning the tops of the frames off
After finishing the super, he looked into the hive body and after pulling out several frames, he found the queen. She was busy laying eggs in each cell. The eggs looked like a grain of rice.
A frame is the wood piece that holds a foundation. Foundations are flexible, fragile pieces that the bees build the honey on. A standard hive body or super holds 10 frames with foundations.
In the picture below the queen is the bee in the center with the red dot. Mrs. Kimmich showed me the little cage that they put the queen in to hold her just right so that she can be marked for easy spotting.
The hive body is the larger box on the bottom of the hive. You do not harvest the honey from it as that is food for the bees for the winter. When the hive body is full, you add supers. The supers are for harvesting. Bill made the comment that he needed to add the second super!!! That sounded like great news to me.
Bill worked without gloves as it is easier to maneuver and I only heard him say “ouch” once. His wife said she likes and even tries to get stung occasionally. She has arthritis in her hands and bee “poison” is suppose to help. She said after she is stung, her hands won’t hurt for weeks. Hum! I also have arthritis in my fingers and now I know the solution; pick up several bees and make one mad!
The Kimmichs said the hive was healthy and there were no signs of hive beetles in this hive. He has beetles in some of his other hives. Hive beetles can destroy a hive if they get out of control.
It is amazing to me that you can open the hive, disturb the peace by lifting out each frame, put it back together and the bees keep on working. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few mad ones buzzing around and it pays for the casual observer to stand off to the side. I had one land on my head and get tangled in my hair but I did not get stung.