5.26.2011

Peeking Into Beekeeping

Three weeks ago we brought the Slacker bees and the Giants to their newhome. That's plenty of time to settle in, make some babies and create a population explosion up on our roof. Unlike people, more babies are better; bees only live four to six weeks.

What doesn't reproduce best when left alone? Even though you might be itchy curious about what's going on inside your hives, you have to resist the urge to peek for the first three weeks. Just like with teenagers, if you give them the opportunity, they'll do what comes naturally.

At three weeks you can act like the mom and see how the kids are doing. You check to see if babies are being born, if the queen is laying eggs, if there are honey stores and pollen. You observe the brood patterns on the frames, making sure the queen lays her eggs in a regular pattern from the middle to the edge and the color of the brood light cardboard brown.

Our store-bought bees looked fine. 

The wild bees are too new to bother just yet but the San Francisco girls hadn't been moved from the hive trap box. It's time they found a permanent home. Charlie rounded up Dylan - another opportunity to wear his bee suit - and they both took all the frames out of the hive trap box and put them into a new, fresh box. The bees in residence moved when their babies were moved. They were excited, flying all over the place, and that means they're happy. When they're depressed they stay inside, acting lethargic, just like you and me.

The forager bees were out collecting pollen when the rest of their family moved. To let them know where their new home is, Charlie put a piece of their familiar-smelling comb at the entrance to the new box. You can watch the forager bees fly toward the new, different box, wondering what happened. Once they sniff at the comb, they recognize the smell of mom and family, and confidently fly through the front door as if to say, "Honey, I'm home!"