Mom, Marg, and the bees

22 June

On the 22nd Susan came by to do some gardening and helped Margaret open the hive – the goal was to check the bottom box, but we were quickly foiled as the smoker went out and Margaret got stung right of the bat in the top honey super. Before calling it quits they were able to see that the only frames that were filling with honey were the ones that had old comb in them- no new foundation had been drawn. Here’s Margaret with a couple of the honey super frames:

Margaret pulls up an frame of empty foundation.

Ripening honey in a small frame.

Un-drawn foundation in the Honey super.

Thus the 22nd inspection quickly ended when the smoker went out and Margaret got stung – but as you can see a few of the frames have honey!

If anyone is wondering why the bees don’t really want to build foundation it’s because it’s hard work! Depending on who you read – it takes somewhere around nine pounds of honey to make one pound of wax. And… According to The Beekeeper’s Handbook (3rd ed., Sammataro and Avitabile), it takes a crew of ten thousand three days to make one pound of wax (optimally). Given that the average summer life span of a workers is around six weeks, this is a significant cost to the bees. Think about the last time you thought about painting the house, it’s a big summer job – although probably not one that’s going to take 7% of your life – maybe it’s more like building the Golden Gate Bridge or putting a man on the moon. There’s an inertia to these things.