The thought of pulling on the full bee suit, gloves, boots and veil was revolting (the temperature was 24C at 10am), but they had to do it. The swarm hive had to be cleaned up a bit before it got so bad that nothing could be done before Spring.
But, Foolish is as Foolish Does, so Greg and Gord suited up and dug in. The bees weren’t bad. They’re no Island Rasta Bees, but they’re not psycho either.
The first good news: the bees are still there. They came as a swarm, so they’re also very motivated to build comb and put away stores. That upper deep box weighs somewhere north of 25kg.
Enthusiastically building comb was part of the problem. The guys were a little disheartened losing all the bees over the winter and hadn’t gotten around to cleaning this one up yet. Frames were out of place from when Gord found the loss, so the bees were building wherever they could.
Everything was going just fine until Gord lifted the lower box from the bottom board so Greg could slide in a ventilated stand. That’s when a comb of brood, not built in a frame or attached to anything fell right out the bottom. The bees promptly stung Gord on the left knee. Through the suit.
A bunch of elastic bands and an empty frame were quickly procured and everything set right again.
You may notice a non-standard arrangement of boxes in the first picture: deep-medium-deep. Gord’s been reading about alternate methods of hive management and is trying something a little different here. The bottom deep is brood. The top deep is all honey. The medium will be whatever the bees want to make of it. It will likely wind up as winter honey stores, but that remains to be seen.
The long and short of it is that these are some wonderful bees. They’ve been in the hive for 2-3 weeks and they’ve cleaned out the dead bees from last year, repaired broken comb, built new comb in places and filled that upper deep with honey. 25kg+ right now.
They’re a bit grumpy, but who knows what they’ll be like in the Spring. When all was said and done, Greg wound up with one sting on the cheek (pro tip: check the lower part of your veil for rogue bees before scratching your face) and dozens in his gloves. Gord got two stings in each knee and one on the back of his hand.
It was stinking hot, but a good day.
Oh, the guys have decided to name their hives instead of numbers. Names are more personal. This one has now been christened ‘Emmett’.
Why Emmett? Because …