Yesterday was a glorious summer-like day. I spent the morning on a trip with a friend in an open topped sports car, so my head is a bit pink today! In the afternoon, however, I was able to open some hives for the first time this year.
The first I visited was the one referred to in my last post. Before opening, I checked the tray: no mites. As I lifted the crown board I got 3 brief stings, the first for many months, and I wondered how I would react as my immunity tends to dwindle over winter and, if I don’t deliberately get a sting or two during that time, I take 2 days swelling up and another 2 going down. No such problem this time fortunately and within minutes I wouldn’t have been able to identify the stung spots. I gave dabs of liquid smoke to disguise the ‘marker dart’ effect of the scent of stings.
There were a few bees in the super but no weight to it. The brood box, however, had masses of stores which the girls will need to move upstairs to give Mother room to lay. I did give them some assistance by moving an outer, empty, comb next to the brood nest.
The queen, whom I observed, still wearing her mark, seems to be laying well and I saw lots of eggs and slabs of sealed brood in a very solid pattern with few misses. I would have expected to see more unsealed brood than I did. Maybe the laying rate was adjusted by response to the weather, which hasn’t been good recently.
I closed up and headed for Sandhills where I have a hive in an enclosure in my apprentice, Dave’s, sheep pasture. Dave was there and told me that his hive was now occupied as he had swapped his empty hive (last year’s split from mine failed to mate) for a full one from a farmer at Wool who had wanted to bring his field with the hive in back into use.
I opened the hives while Dave looked over the fence. Before doing so, this time I found my ancient little bottle of clove oil and put what was probably the last drop on the back of one hand and rubbed it in with the other. Bees, although they understand what you’re saying, can’t spell very well and so mistake ‘cloves’ for ‘gloves’ and so don’t sting while you’re wearing it. I must find a herbalist and buy some more. That bottle is many years old.
First I opened my hive. I was surprised that, by contrast with the previous hive, there were no sealed stores whatsoever, and not a lot of unsealed. However, the day was fine and they were working busily so I didn’t fret. I saw the marked queen, plenty of eggs and an excellent pattern of sealed brood but, again, little unsealed.
Next I opened Dave’s, on a brood and a half. He had put slabs of fondant on top and managed to squash some bees into it. I didn’t look in the brood box as there was healthy looking brood and plenty of stores in the super. The bees are quite dark and handled well. He’s done well to get them.
In the evening I picked up my phone and discovered a message from the Vicaress of Cattistock, the next parish to me wherein is Sandhills. Somebody had complained to her about masses of bees in the Church trying to get through the window of the Lady Chapel and dying. There have been bees above that Chapel for years and I guess that yesterday’s unusual strong sunlight had made a gap into the Church more brightly illuminated than their usual exit on the north side. I’m off now to take a look. It’s back to cloudiness today so the phenomenon may have ceased.