The weather was somewhat cooperating and I needed to check in on the bees. My plan was to go out to Old Frog Pond Farm and check in on both of the hives, but I had a time limit. I don’t really like to visit the hives when I am in a rush, even if it isn’t a big rush. The bees can always sense when I am rushed and they do not like when I am in their home and rushing. Even when I am feeling rushed I do not do anything differently while I am in the hive, but the bees know how I am feeling and they react accordingly.
I started at the Orchard Hive. I looked into the observation window and the hive was very full of bees. I opened up the hive and began inspecting. Right away the bees knew that I was feeling rushed and they became upset. They were trying to sting me through my gloves and trying to get to my face. This was new for this colony, but I understood.
I only checked ten of the bars. The colony looks good. There is larvae , capped brood, pollen, nectar, and capped honey. I did not see the queen or eggs, but the larvae were at different stages and that leads me to believe that the queen is there. The bars that I looked at had a good amount of honey in the comb. They also had good stores of pollen.
They were getting so agitated and so many bees were losing their lives to trying to sting me, so I decided that I needed to end this inspection. I did not want to continue with the way things were going. I closed up the hive and had to walk into the brush around to try to get all of the angry bees away from me. They were acting similar to my Host Hive bees and I did not want that to continue. Hopefully the next visit I will be more relaxed and the bees will be too.
Even just checking ten bars, it took me a while. The Orchard Hive is always slow to get back into the hive. They love to take their time when I am trying to but the bars back in. One of the tactics that I have used is to gently blow on them to get them to go back into the hive. These bees don’t even pay attention to that. They hate the brush, so I only use that when I am desperate to get them back in. I have to just gently rock the bars back into their spaces and gently talk to the bees to convince them to go back into the hive.
Since I was feeling so rushed I decided that I would only look in the window of the Willow Hive. I headed over to the Willow Hive to have a quick look. When I opened the window I got a bit of a shock, there were very few bees in there. What happened? Where did they all go?
I came back to the hive the next day to inspect it and find out what happened. I spent some time looking around the outside of the hive and the activity looked normal, but there were a lot fewer bees. Looking in the observation window was more of the same, a lot less bees. My only hope was that they had swarmed and that is why there were so few bees in the hive.
This colony is on thirty bars, but one of the bars were empty so I removed it and two were beautiful capped honey so I stole them. I did not find any brood, but there was a lot of nectar and capped honey. The bees had filled the entire hive with nectar. There was also quite a bit of pollen, but that was not on every comb. I was amazed to see this much nectar and honey in the hive. Neither of my hives last year had filled up like this.
I was able to find the queen. I think that she is a new queen since I am fairly certain this colony swarmed. She looked good, but she had almost no where to lay eggs. I had a bar with a full comb that was empty so I put it into the hive to give her somewhere to lay eggs. I was very concerned to see the hive with no brood at all, but since I saw the queen I hoped things would change.
One of the bars the bees had connected the comb to the divider board. Luckily, it was full of capped honey so I took that too! It was exciting to get so much honey from the hive already. Last year my bees barely produced anything. It wasn’t until September of last year that my hives had enough honey to get them through the winter.
The honey from the Willow hive is some of the best honey that I have ever tasted! My two hives at Old Frog Pond Farm have access to some amazing forage. The Orchard Hive makes good honey too, but the honey from the Willow Hive is incredible! I am glad that they have enough so that they can share a little with me.