This is the second week of having honeybees! And already a lot has happened.
It’s actually still a bit chilly for the bees sometimes. Last weekend when I went to take out the queen cages the bees were huddled in a cluster and I didn’t want to disturb them. Hmmm… that sentence is going to take some explaining. When you buy a package of bees, the bee factory just shakes a bunch of different bees into a box and sticks in a queen that doesn’t have anything to do with them – if the other bees could reach her they would kill her, so she is kept in a little cage with a candy cork; by the time the bees eat through the cork they have gotten used to her scent and accept her as their queen. Below 47ish degrees bees’ muscles don’t really work. They huddle in a cluster and keep each other warm with shared body heat all winter, rotating who gets to be in the middle of the toasty ball of bees. But if the cluster gets knocked down they are screwed!
So anyway, last weekend it was cold and they were in a little bee ball. You are not supposed to disturb them in this state. You are also supposed to keep the frames in the hive very close together so that there is only exactly enough room for 2 bees to pass by each other (here is a picture). Otherwise they build comb in between the frames and it gets all crazy like the architecture in Inception. Last weekend there was a gap (frames not touching!) where I took out the queen cages, but I didn’t push the frames together because I was afraid of disturbing the cluster of bees. So this weekend when I went to check on them ALL THREE HIVES HAD STARTED BUILDING COMB WHERE I DIDN’T WANT THEM TO! So I got some experience in apologizing to bees for taking their hard work (beautiful wax honeycomb!) away and making them start over. Looking at the wax though you can see that each hive has a healthy queen – some of the comb has little bee eggs in it and one piece already has larva! Which I killed by taking the comb away – I feel really bad about that!
But the weather is much warmer already than a week ago and the bees are zipping around everywhere looking for food. I am sure they will replace their stolen comb in no time – and hopefully color between the lines this time! Now I am wondering what to do with all this pure, chemical-free beeswax…