Over the past week, I suspected my hive was being robbed after noticing a dozen or so ‘deathlock’ battles and lots of arrivals to the hive with no pollen on their hind legs. There was also a tell tale sign by the pitch and volume of their buzzing. I read that there was a particular sound to it, so when I noticed the sound coming from them and it did not sound ‘happpy’, it made sense that this was the sound I read that I would hear. I added a ‘Robber Screen’ that I built from a few pieces of furring strip and a section of screen door replacement screen.
I decided not to use smoke this time since the bees were so relaxed when I checked their syrup level yesterday. There was no ominous buzzing and they were quite calm today, until I removed the frames. I saw one stinging my glove and others were hitting me like thrown grapes. They really are calmer with a little smoke.
Their syrup has barely gone down. I will leave the feeder in there for one more week, but they seem to be doing well without it. Their pollen patty has been heavily chewed upon. It was replaced over the frames that have not been drawn yet in an effort to convince the queen to move to the other side of the hive. If she is not restricted by too few bees to tend the hive, this may promote a doubling of the egg storage space.
When I do smoke them, I notice that many of the girls are head first into some of the comb and this seems to be them eating their honey stores in the event they need to leave the hive in a hurry, if the ‘fire’ gets worse. It stands to reason that too much smoke will make the bees actually consider leaving if they sense a major threat to the hive. I usually give a light puff or two through their main entrance, and two more puffs across the top to cover both halves of the hive. I set the smoker upwind of the hive so that it slowly drifts over the open hive. I may give them another puff or two over te top of the hive before closing it up to kind of push the bees down and to keep them from getting squished as I close up the hive. After the first or second puff, I use the brush to get any stragglers out of the way.
Frames 3-6 were fully drawn with capped honey and tons of brood cells. Drone cells were found on the outside of frame 6. The queen was located on frame 4 near frame 3.
I may have seen some newly matured bees today. They were very light in color, didn’t move much, and were both short and skinny compared to the bulk of other bees in there. This is about the time I expected to see new bees emerging… 21 days since the package was installed on April 11th. This may be a little early, but some of the bees I saw fit the profile of new bees.
Frames 2 and 7 have the start of some comb, but not enough for brood or honey storage just yet. With the anticipation of many new bees over the next week, I expect more frames to be built out and loaded with new eggs. Whether I was lucky and saw the first dozen baby bees or they begin to show up tomorrow or the next day, this is the first time the number of bees from my original package will remain the same from one day to the next… Or maybe even start to go up!
Apparently, there are removable corners on the foundation the bees use to crawl from one frame to the next. I never popped those out, so I will be doing that to the frames without comb. Hopefully this will help them expand their hive size more quickly after this little tweak.
In the future, I want to save a chunk of wax and use it on the foundation like a cheese grater, then hit it with a blast from a hair dryer to pre-coat the foundation with a layer of wax. Supposedly, this makes the bees want to draw comb much earlier than on a plain plastic foundation, which gives the queen space to lay eggs for a bigger colony.
The hive had an indistinguishable floral smell. Not like any particular flower, but generally flowery and sweet. This was the first time I smelled any kind of odor coming from the hive and I really liked it.