Buzzed

We went outside to check our bees this evening. The Buckfast hive we set up with package bees this spring had already filled up one broodchamber and was in desperate need of more space, so we added a second broodchamber on top of the first. The semiferal colony we bought in Mannford a couple of weeks ago is also ready for more space, although there’s still some uncapped honey in there. Hopefully that bunch will stay busy capping cells for the next couple of days while we air out some frames Ron fumigated with moth crystals over the winter. (When you store empty comb, you have to take steps to prevent wax-moth infestations. We use moth crystals, which work well, but you have to air out the frames afterward so the bees aren’t exposed to the fumes.)

Our old Buckfast colony was a little shaky earlier this season, having lost its queen, but the girls have requeened and were rearing several frames of brood when we checked them tonight. Meanwhile, our big Italian colony continues to thrive. We put a super full of Ross Rounds on top earlier this season. The girls ignored it for a while, but they’ve finally started drawing out a little comb.

I’m a little concerned about the Buckfast swarm. I get the distinct impression that it has lost its queen, as there aren’t many bees in the hive now, and the only brood I saw was a pretty sloppy collection of drone cells sprinkled in amongst the honey.

We had a new experience this evening. When we set up the new Buckfast hive using package bees, we put in just nine frames, the idea being to give ourselves a little more room to work when we’re pulling frames for inspection. Normally, this works fine and just results in slightly thicker comb that’s easier to uncap, but this time around, we apparently failed to space the frames evenly before closing the hive, and we ended up with a space exactly one frame wide, which the girls filled up with burr comb — a fact we discovered when we started to take off the top feeder to do an inspection a couple of weeks ago.

The girls had basically suspended the equivalent of an entire frame of brood from the top feeder, so we cut it off, wedged it into a frame, and secured it with several rubber bands before sticking it back into the hive.

I’m looking forward to having some time on my hands to watch the girls this summer. They’re so cute….

Emily

P.S.: The frogs in our pond are making weird noises tonight. We have some kind of teensy frog back there that makes a sound that’s somewhere between a bark and a chirp. It’s very strange….

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