Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tending the bees
Last week our new hive of bees started to congregate a little more than normal outside the hive and they seemed to have slowed down on their feeding of sugar water. A quick call to Fran (from Buster's Bees) convinced us that it was time to add the super we had purchased a couple of weeks back.
The first thing we did was check out our Dad's old smoker, the only remaining relic from his beekeeping days when we were children. We felt we had to start with the smoker since we could remember holding it for Dad on summer days past when he was tending to his bees.
Happily, it still worked even if it does look to be fifty-plus years of age.
We started out with the smoker, sending puffs of smoke into the front opening and prying the lid open and soon the inside of the hive was revealed. We kept smoking the bees a little to calm them and we were absolutely amazed when we saw thousands of bees filling the hive. Some flew around us and was my sister, Wilma pried the frames loose to inspect the hive, the bees began to swarm all around us.
(This wasn't my best look, though I was glad for the tight elastic at the bottom of my bee jacket. I always was glad later that I tied ropes around the bottom of my pants.)
It was simply amazing to look inside and be totally protected from the swarm of stings we might have received had we not been wearing the hat, veil, gloves and pants. It was a very exciting experience for me. I was nervous but I must admit I felt like Rose going down the rapids in the African Queen. "I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating."
After examining the hive we smoked the bees a little more and I went over to get the super to place it on top of the hive body.
It was a little difficult to get the smoke to go where we wanted it to go. After this the fire went out in the smoker. (We need to work on this.) We tried to get the bees to move off the top so they wouldn't be crushed by the super and we got extra wax off the wood of the hive cover.
A little extra brushing and we added the cover.
At this point we really didn't worry so much that the bees were covering us because we felt safe in our gear.
And we were done. About this time, a bee that had crawled up to my sister's knee stinging her but this was the only negative thing that happened. (The next day we couldn't tell where she had been stung.)
We celebrated while gathering up our supplies.
It took a white for the bees to settle down but we felt very confident that we could handle this. It was so very exciting and amazing while all the bees were flying around, essentially trying to make us stop messing with their hive.
We did see that our hive was very strong and we have SO many bees. We also found that beekeeping is not dangerous and we felt very safe and protected. I can say I am not ready to take off my gloves, jacket or hat but I do feel great about having the bees and I think it was a very good decision. I am hoping they can fill up this little super and the next super we will soon add. We may just have some honey this fall. Our bees are obviously very hard workers.