I am delayed in posting the Becker Bee Buzz. Apologies. In addition to learning about bees and the super-organism called that is the hive, I’ve been existing in an interesting new reality merging my new homesteading persona with a hodge podge of homeschooling tech skills. Not going too smoothly. But the bees continue to buzz.
I’ve been a little worried about our second hive (the blue hive on the right). It’s strong. Very strong. The population is almost double that of hive one (Queen: Lady Waterlily, the yellow hive on the left). When I checked the hive last week, they had drawn out their comb almost 100%. I wasn’t seeing any queen cells, but I was still concerned that the hive might be ready to swarm. (Not seeing queen cells might be my lack of experience so I’ve working on making sure I know how to spot them). Swarming is when the queen takes off with most of her hive to find a bigger and better home. That’s not good. We want them to stay put. So I expanded their home by adding another box. I’ll check back in and let you know how they are doing after my next inspection.
I’m reposting the image of bees drawing out comb because it’s a gorgeous example of the stages between drawn comb and capped honey. This is all happening at once Bees just do what needs to be done. They don’t create lists and check them off as they go along.
In the upper left hand corner you can see the foundation that I installed with the frame in the hive. It’s the wax foundation on which bees draw out their comb. If you look just left of center, you see the raised comb that has been drawn out. I have been feeding the bees of each hive 4.75lbs of sugar in a 1:1 syrup mixture to keep them nourished while we wait for a nectar to flow to begin. (That’s almost 50lbs of sugar since they were installed at the beginning of April.) This syrup is what they are using to produce wax for comb and food stores to feed the hive. In the image, if you look just right of center, you see comb filled with nectar. Bees fill the comb with nectar they create and then fan it with their wings to reduce the water content.* When the water content is below 20% minimum, the bees are confident that the the honey won’t spoil or ferment. That is honey! So then the bees cap it with a waxy substance for storage. This is what you see on the right of the image here.
*This sugar syrup is getting the bees through lean times. Once the nectar flow begins, and we’re at the early stages, the bees will start gathering pollen and nectar to create honey which will be stored on the supers (the hive boxes) on top of the hive bodies (the deep boxes on the bottom). More on this in future posts!