A Late Summer Hive Check
After months of avoiding the hive of honey bees, we finally decided to crack her open when my grandma and her friend, Theresa, visited the farm in late July. Theresa has been steadily beekeeping for the past three years and was excited to see what was happening in our hive since we had decidedly neglected it for most of the spring and summer. I was thankful that she was there to help Kyle look around because I was not wanting to suit up at all! While I love the art of beekeeping, after my attack last autumn, I have been losing interest and have been prioritizing my time on the farm focused on the vegetables and flowers. Sometimes that happens. Thankfully Kyle has been showing his own interest in beekeeping (that was what we initially talked about when we met!) and decided to become our resident beekeeper.
Tad, Kyle, and Theresa opened the hive and used their brilliant minds to discover what had happened inside since early May!
With the initial pop of the lid, we found that there were quite a few ants trying to fight their way in to rob honey from the bees. We had assumed a while back that our hive had split after hearing what sounded like a swarm in our pine trees, though we never found any evidence of one or saw it. I had noticed that there were not a lot of bees traveling in and out of the hive, and if I am being honest, was using it as an excuse to not check.
Other than a few mischievous ants, which we got rid of with ground cinnamon, the hive looked completely healthy and normal. This was a shock to me. After hearing over and over again from others how medications and things should be applied to a hive annually and be checked, leaving our bees to their natural devices had worked just as well. If anything, I found the colony to be much more docile during this check. We had the hive open for quite some time and not once found the bees to become agitated. It was so pleasant!
Brood patterns were consistent and the queen was still laying eggs as we found them and larvae in amongst the capped brood. Hooray! We also found lots of capped honey, pollen, and nectar. It was a beautiful sight. I had more fun capturing the entire check than I did actually looking!
Back in May, I reversed the hive bodies, and we found that 9.5 of the 10 frames were filled. We decided to place the honey super on. Maybe this year we will get a bit of honey to keep for ourselves! how wonderful would that be?
It was wonderful to see so much capped honey that was from the plants growing around our farm and elsewhere. I have not fed the bees since spring, which has saved me a lot of grief and money! While the rain was not helpful, they have had a lot of nectar sources this year at least there have been on our farm. The clover is blooming now, too! We are hoping to have honey in September, but if there is enough, we could even harvest as early as August. It really depends on how quickly the hive can build. If it is anything like last year, we will not have much honey at all. We are crossing our fingers to share at least one frame with our hive!
Aren’t bees amazing? How do they know to build the cells just perfectly? It blows my mind looking at these photos!