We drove back out to Living Kitchen this evening to rescue the remnants of our hive. It was past dark when we got home with them (we couldn’t bring them home until dusk, as we wanted to give all the girls a chance to get back in the hive), but the process of merging hives is simple enough to do by flashlight.
We’d already removed the affected frames and consolidated the remnants of the hive into a single hive body this afternoon. Once the bees came in for the evening, we sealed the hive with newspapers and duct tape and brought it home in the Fit. The girls grumbled quietly to themselves all the way from Kellyville to Red Fork, but they didn’t escape or make trouble in the car.
When we got home, I took the lid and inner cover off our backyard hive and laid a sheet of newspaper over the frames. After I poked some holes in the newspaper with a kitchen knife, Ron unsealed the moth-weakened hive, removed it from its base, and set it on top of the newspaper. The whole process took maybe five minutes. Now we just have to leave the girls alone for the next 10 days while the queens slug it out and the workers get used to each other.
The wax moth fairy visited our bees at Living Kitchen, which means we have to make an emergency trip back out there at sunset to get what’s left of the hive and merge it with our existing hive here, and I found a female cow killer wasp in the hive at Nuyaka this afternoon.
Cow killers supposedly prey on bumblebees and cicada killer wasps — not honeybees — but I didn’t like the looks of the situation.
What I liked even less was the fact that after I used my hive tool to sever the cow killer’s abdomen from its body, its head and thorax crawled down into the top broodchamber before I could finish it off. Ron said the wasp “just doesn’t know it’s dead yet,” but I’m not so sure; the next time I saw her, she was still very much alive, calmly raiding the bees’ pantry and munching on honey as if nothing had happened. I’m still trying to figure out why the bees tolerated this. Seems to me like they should have been escorting her out, but they just ignored her. Maybe they were as creeped out by her Night of the Living Dead routine as I was.
I’m done with Italian honeybees. They’re too bloody docile for their own good. Come spring, we’re adding two hives of Russians and a hive of Buckfasts, and any existing colonies that survive the winter will be summarily requeened with either Russians or Buckfasts. I’ll probably get stung more often, but hopefully I’ll end up with bees who have sense enough to chase off predators instead of inviting them in to trash the joint….