This is the second week of having honeybees! Â And already a lot has happened.
It’s actually still a bit chilly for the bees sometimes. Â 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. Â Hmmm… that sentence is going to take some explaining. Â 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. Â Below 47ish degrees bees’ muscles don’t really work. Â 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. Â 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. Â You are not supposed to disturb them in this state. Â 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). Â Otherwise they build comb in between the frames and it gets all crazy like the architecture in Inception. Â 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. Â So this weekend when I went to check on them ALL THREE HIVES HAD STARTED BUILDING COMB WHERE I DIDN’T WANT THEM TO! Â So I got some experience in apologizing to bees for taking their hard work (beautiful wax honeycomb!) away and making them start over. Â 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! Â 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. Â I am sure they will replace their stolen comb in no time – and hopefully color between the lines this time! Â Now I am wondering what to do with all this pure, chemical-free beeswax…