_So waiting for my girls to draw out the second hive body, I thought it was time to double-check the books and make sure they were doing things correctly. What good does reading all these books and magazines do for me, when it's the bees who really need to hear this stuff? So, I began reading one of my manuals to them.
_I made sure to point out all of the great illustrations in my handbook, "The Backyard Beekeeper". I think some bees are more visual than others.
_Once that chapter was completed, I left them with a bit of bedside reading they could get to, if they so desired.
_All appeared to be going well. For the first time I could hear the buzzing from BOTH hive boxes when I visited my bees each night, usually after I get home from work. But one day I came home to a cloud of about 400 bees in front of the hive. The photo below doesn't do justice to what I was seeing, but believe me, it was a LOT of bees and kind of freaked me out. Was this a robbing incident? I called my mentors to find out their thoughts. I waited a little bit, then suited up, used lots of smoke and removed the feeder and syrup for the time being. That was two weeks ago. The other night the incident repeated itself at exactly the same time, 6:30. I double-checked my books three times, and visited the hive on three occasions with no protection on at all (unless flip flops and shorts count). There were no balls of bees fighting to the death. No corpses of bees on the ground from the battle that comes with defending the hive from robbing. And no smell of bananas. Most importantly, as I knelt two feet beside the entrance, even with the cloud of bees buzzing about, I received no stings. So I am convinced these were not robbing events, but orientation flights of young bees I was witnessing. My hive has definitely been growing.
_A week after removing the feeder, I wondered if they'd continue to work on drawing out the frames in the second box. Here's a top view. Not bad, not bad at all.
_One empty end-frame removed, and you can see a beautiful sight!
_A closer view of one of the frames, fully drawn and filled with capped and uncapped sugar syrup "honey" from the feeder and whatever nectar they could find in the wild.
And another frame that had been empty just a week or two before was now complete and had a lot of capped brood in a tight pattern. The queen's been in the top box and laying well.
_And another freshly drawn frame chock full of capped brood, and syrup honey around the edges.. Another similar frame had a tight pattern of larvae developing in the center (and no varroa mites visible to the naked eye).
_And the other end frame, where you can see they've begun to draw out the comb. Wow, in just under two weeks, one of them without feeding, they'd drawn out six and a half of the seven fresh frames and foundation Richard and I had installed in the top box. We'd moved two other frames with brood and bees from the bottom box. Now, I need to see what's in the bottom box on my next visit, and remove some of the honey frames and replace them with empty undrawn foundation. My plan is for a split in early August, so I've got to put these girls to work so the split hive gets an easy start. I'll add in fresh deep frames and a medium super to see if I can get them to draw out comb for honey stores next year. I'll definitely replace the top feeder since nectar is low in the hazy depths of summer. Time to crack that whip!
_With temps getting into the high 90s, up to 98 one day, I caught the girls doing a bit of festooning, or cooling off, one night around 9. When they're doing this they emit a beautiful low buzzing hum.
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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