Monday, May 28, 2007

State of the Hives: Memorial Day 2007

The bees have been with us for nearly two months now, and with a requisite number of ups and downs, ins and outs, we seem to have reached something of even keel in their management. It wasn't easy, but it's been worth it so far.

On a post or two ago, we talked about burr comb and the fact that the bees in one hive seem to be producing a good bit of it. I couldn't figure that out until Sally pointed out that the East Hive -- where the burr comb was occurring in abundance -- had a lot more bees than the West Hive, which had been decimated in the early April cold snap.

Well, of course. The bees were making burr comb because they didn't have anywhere else to go. There were only two medium boxes of frames, so I added another box. That was several days ago.

Last night Jim Brown came over and brought Uncle Gerald -- a beekeeper of many years -- to look at my hives. When we opened things up, the East Hive bees were well into the third box of frames, drawing comb like crazy. I had stopped feeding them a few days ago, and they seem to be thriving.

Same with the West Hive bunch. Their numbers are far fewer, but they are finally up into the second box of frames, drawing comb in a nice neat wave. Jim found brood cells in both boxes, which means the queens are doing their thing, so all seems to be well. I am still feeding the West Hive because their numbers are still down, and I will probably keep doing that for most of the summer.

As for the East Hive, the honey that they put into the third box will be real honey -- not the sugar water honey based on the bee juice I have been feeding them up until now. It could be harvested in July or August, although we will see if there is enough there to make it worthwhile.

One final note about the weather: It has not rained substantially for several weeks. The temperatures have not been horrendous -- actually, they've been very pleasant -- but things are beginning to dry up now. That's going to affect the production of the bees. If it will start raining sometime soon, the honey will begin to flow again, and these bees might finally have a chance to do what bees are supposed to do.

Planning begins for a third and fourth hive.

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