_So seven days had passed since Hernan and I had installed the two new Russian queens. After a nerve-wracking week of wondering whether or not they'd been released, it was time to take a look. (The squashed bee on top of the frame is one reason for general anxiety when working the hives. One false move and you can easily kill the queen.) Here you can see the queen cage in hive Boris. The candy end had been completely eaten through. A bee is seen cleaning out remnants. The queen had been released!
_In Hive Natasha the queen cage had fallen from the frames. Fortunately it landed bottom-up, and the screened bottom board caught it, too. This candy end also had been eaten through, so that queen had been released. So far, so good. I worked the hives to clean them up a bit and remove the cages.
_I put the cages at the entrance so that any bees inside could find their way back out. I'd read that in a book. However I quickly discovered that remnants of Her Majesty's pheromone was enough to set off a bit of robbing, as bees from Natasha quickly flew over to see what the good smells were about. The ones who did met their demise thanks to Boris' guards. For Hive Natasha I just blew any bees out of the cage. No more robbing.
_This end frame had been drawn out on one side and filled with syrup honey. There were more bees than I'd remembered in Natasha. She seems to be doing well, regardless of my worries about only seeing a bee or two at a time at her entrance.
_Hive Boris' numbers also seemed to have leveled off. This original hive had many more bees on it immediately after our requeening efforts a week prior. Now the two hives seemed closer in strength, more even, though Boris still has more bees.
_In the following eight days I built and readied more frames. This time I used old-fashioned crimpwire with 100% beeswax. Bees love this stuff, and take to it in no time, is what they told us in Bee School. I had to make 14 of these total, to combine with my four frames of drawn comb I'd harvested and readied a few weeks prior, to make 18 frames (nine each for each hive addition).
_In these past two weeks I've become convinced that one of the most important things we can do as beekeepers is, "First, do no harm." I always prepare a mental game-plan for my inspections. Now, I'm going to do only what's necessary to achieve that and nothing more. I'm also going to learn how to read a hive without even opening it. Minimizing risks and trusting the bees to do their jobs seems to be a perfect approach to me. Less is more. Hive Boris was looking good, even stronger than before and was moderately calm.
_I found a good many bees and evidence that the new queen was laying, as capped brood was found. I quickly put things back in order and moved on to Hive Natasha.
_A fair number of bees greeted me in the new hive, and her demeanor was calm.
_Deeper into Natasha showed that her strength had greatly increased since she'd been started.
_I took the four empty honey frames I'd spun out, and placed them in the center of Natasha's second box. This gives them a jump-start, as the queen can start laying right away in those frames. The sooner the better, so this new hive can get up to full strength before winter comes.
_The still wet honey frames quickly attracted attention from below.
_I also converted a beetle trap into an inside-the-hive pollen feeder. I removed every other rung on this trap with a Xacto blade. Natasha's bees immediately loved the fresh pollen gift I gave them.
_I cleaned out both top feeders. I must say that the plastic two-gallon top feeder is wonderful. Hose it down to quickly clean. Any bees underneath it seem to not mind as I clean the top side. I love my plastic top feeders and so do the bees!
_Fresh syrup was given to both hives and bees quickly climbed up to feed.
_Boris is looking good. The numbers outside the hive have been growing.
_As has little new hive Natasha. It's not a ton outside, but it's far more than the none or one bee I'd seen in the previous weeks. She's off to a great start!
I left both with gifts and a second story addition. Hopefully they'll immediately take to their new quarters, spin out the honeycomb on the pure wax foundation I'd given them and start to lay eggs and increase their numbers in time for winter. We'll see. So far, so good!
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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