_Our crepe myrtles were in full bloom all of June and the first two weeks of July. Not much left of the blooms after super high temps and summer storms. I caught one of my girls at work a couple weeks ago. How do I know it's from my hive? Well ... a beekeeper knows, is all. :)
_And another view. I just love our crepe myrtles. So many people commit "crepe murder" each spring, as my good friend Jane calls it, and whack their trees to pitiful states. Those who did so this year didn't have even a smattering of flowers, while ours put on a royal show. When I was not feeding the bees the last week of June and first week of July, honeybees were all over these beautiful trees. Last year they only attracted bumblebees and beetles, so that's how I know these girls are from hive Boris. :)
_I restarted feeding on last inspection, July 4. In that first week hive Boris drank up six gallons of syrup in seven days. WOW, they were hungry. The first gallon and a third went down overnight, I'm not exaggerating, that quick! This week they slowed down a little, having drunk three gallons in five days. Today's big question: "Is Boris queenless?" I'd seen supercedure cells of various sizes in the bottom box last visit. I was greeted by more bees up top than I'd ever seen. They were very defensive, not a good sign. The weather was 71 degrees. They'd drawn out one of the empty frames on the end, and the frame next to it was also completed. Beautiful!
_On the second frame in of the top box, from the West side, I spotted the queen, and gently returned her and the tons of bees and capped brood back into the box. Still the bees were unusually defensive. I decided to only inspect the top box, having seen her majesty in action. Lots of capped syrup honey and brood on freshly drawn comb.
_Every single frame in the top box was completely drawn. I'm assuming the story was the same in the bottom box. Since I use a nine-frame configuration instead of 10, the frames seem to be drawn out in two stages: to an even and moderate depth, then additionally deep to accomodate the extra room I've given them. This frame is in stage two, with the bees going right to left (West to East), top to bottom.
_I was delighted with what I was seeing this week. A complete turn-around from what I'd expected. But still they were REALLY defensive, more than I'd ever experienced. I wonder if my queen is getting worn out and they would like a new one? I was very calm, but still experienced a couple moments of streaks of panic, as my hands and veil were full of angry defensive bees. I smoked them, and was glad to have on a pair of new goatskin gloves.
_Tons of bees and food storage on each and every frame. Also noted was pollen on each frame. A few drone cells at the bottom of a couple of frames, but not too many. I think the queen might be in fine shape, and Boris was unusually defensive due to the oddly cool and overcast weather.
_Even the end frames, one of which was completely blank with only fresh foundation just 14 days ago, had been drawn out. The feeding worked and Boris still had its reigning monarch! This frame was the most beautiful I'd seen this visit. It was one of my new frames, that had been drawn, and chock full of food storage and capped brood, with a little pollen around it.
_I quickly spotted two honey frames, which were the two end frames on the East side of the box that were not drawn out just two weeks ago. I removed those, to keep aside for the split I will make in a month to create hive Natasha. Again Boris was given two fresh frames on the East side. Even though I was only working the top box, so as not to disturb and possibly harm the queen, I'd gotten more than what I'd hoped for with two more completely drawn frames. That makes three so far reserved for Natasha. That hive will be off to a major jump-start. Again I dusted the top box, even with the queen, using a flour sifter and powdered sugar for tracheal and varroa mite control.
_Into the freezer they went for at least 48 hours to kill anything that might be lurking. I replaced the feeder, gave them another gallon of syrup, and left the work box that still had a ball of bees in it near the front entrance so they could find their way back inside the hive.
So far I have learned that beekeeping is all about surprises. It is a miracle of nature, and an unpredictable one at that. Hive Boris is doing extremely well. I'm concerned at their defensiveness, and it's making me think about possibly requeening Boris when I make the split for Natasha. Still, I'm amazed at how well Her Royal Highness is doing, so I'm going to think about it, listen to my mentors and read some more books. We'll see how the hive is doing in a week!
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Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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