The sun appeared today, and both us and the bees welcomed it after over a week of fog and drizzle. We opened the hive with the hope of seeing how the frames were filling in hopes of being able to add another deep super for the bees to draw out.
The hive was buzzing, with many bees on the outside and lots of flights in and out. Once again we saw some burr comb on the top catching the drips from that pesky feeder pail.
The bees had hatched quite a bit of brood and had a lot of drone cells – not sure how many they should be building, but given that women do the work of the hive I thought it odd there were so many drone cells. The wax was also much more yellow this time than last, presumably the result of the dandelion pollen they were tracking into the hive.
Healthy bees, with the first bees hatched out of the middle.
Even a bit of honey in the upper right corner.
We ended up with 8 frames full of bees, and the bees working on the outer-most frames. So after some discussion we swapped outer-most frames with the next inner frame and added a layer.
The low point of this insepction was our first two stings, both on Rob’s fingers. Rob squashed a bee with the feeder pail when we first opened the hive, and then two more proceeded to get him back for it. Good news is he had no crazy reaction. It hurt, and wasn’t fun, but we were able to keep going on our inspection. Sorry girls- RIP!
2 thoughts on “Expanding upwards”
I believe that it's pretty normal for about 10% of the population of the colony to be drones.
We keep bees in our tiny urban backyard in Oakland California, and we are not the kind of beekeepers who kill drones because they're "not useful." We believe that the bees know their own business, and we just help them along.
Some people would dismiss this as being really simplistic. But why should we use the practices of factory farming inside of our hives? It clearly isn't working for the larger migratory beekeepers.
(Rob) Thanks for reading the blog, and commenting! I completely agree with you on the drone cells, I watched a video a few days ago of another beginning beekeeper destroying drone cells on his combs – because he was worried about supersedure and wasn't sure if the cells were queens or drones. It looked like a lot of work to me, and it certainly seems like damaging that much of the hive should be a significant drag on colony resources.
I have been writing down the goals for each inspection before we get into the hive, and I think that this makes our visits more efficient, and insures we disturb them least. The simplest answer is often the best!
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