I checked in on the hives on June 22nd, a rather quick in-and-out of the top super to inspect a few frames. I’m a little concerned by what’s going on in the Silvers, as per usual, but it might, might just be that their pollen’s funny colors.
I confirmed the existence of small hive beetles in both, however, and went ahead and ordered beetle traps (as well as a second honey super for the Blues) from Mann Lake. There’s also some wax moths, as can be expected– that’s what I’m worried might be affecting the weaker Silvers.
But the Blues were looking great, and considering a nearby beekeeper’s association is hosting a honey harvest soon, where I can borrow their extractor for a few frames, I might actually have something to show in a few weeks– if it’s not just sugar water. Not too concerned about product this season, anyway; I’m learning.
The supplies arrived quickly, as usual, and on Tuesday I opened up the hives and took another quick gander around both, everything’s swell, and added the beetle traps to the top supers.
What drove me to the blog today, rather than any time in the past week or so, was a heart-stopping sight. We’re in the middle of a rather ferocious summer storm, and I got home from work during a break in the festivities, so to speak. It’s been relatively calm for a half-hour, forty-five minutes or so when I walk out to look at my hives– and there’s absolutely NO hive activity. Negative hive activity, in fact, if the still and silent bees frozen on the front of the Silver hive can count backwards. Maybe a small check in the activity box from the Blues, because there’s one upside down on top of the hive, struggling not to drown.
I flip her off the top and into the grass and hope she gets her bearings, but I’m already a-panic. Did the beetle traps cause something? Did the special oil I use confuse them? Wax moths? Foulbrood? Sabotage?!
I take a few quick pictures (they’ll be uploaded once my computer gets on board with this whole “secure connection” nonsense), and take a few deep breaths.
What am I really looking at, here?
Big storm means decreased activity. Only bee moving was flailing around in…standing water. On top of the hive, granted, but if I look more closely–
There are puddles in front of the entrances.
I dash inside, grab an already beat-up old towel and cut it up a bit more, a couple of strips about an inch wide and a few inches long, grab my hive tool and bee brush, and head back out to the hives.
I don’t want to block the entrances entirely, so I use the edge of the towel and the hive tool to do some spot-mopping, and then adjust the edge so that there’s still maneuvering room in and out of the entrance, but the puddling areas are covered. I let the fabric hand down over the front edge of the bottom board to wick away the water that does try to pool.
Take a few deep breaths.
Already, bees are starting to peek out around the top edge of the entrance reducer. The first few tentative probosces emerge. Moments later, bees are fanning the entrance, getting their Nasonov scent all over the new carpeting. Others are starting to tug at threads, pulling them closer into the hive.
I sit out there for another twenty minutes as the rain starts to fall again, watching these bees get it, knowing that I helped them solve a problem that had already cost them at least a handful of comrades (don’t mourn the bee, mourn the colony, I tell myself– the few are often spent so the whole can be saved).
When the sun’s out again, I’ll figure out a better way of shielding the front entrances from a downpour, but I don’t want to mess too much with the appearance of the hives while the bees are already going to be a bit under the weather (hurrhurr) and disoriented from the bright red entrances.
For the past hour now I’ve been coming in and going out, looking at what they’re up to, adjusting things a bit if I was worried the entrance was too blocked. And it seems the Blues might be… intentionally blocking the entrance? Or maybe just mopping up, if that wicking effect is really working. I don’t even know anymore, but I like watching them work, some tugging strings into place as others come in from the scouting, squeezing past into the hive.
It’s a strange cocktail of feelings, this post-panic satisfaction, a sense of teamwork and individual problem-solving, an adrenaline crash of half-broken humor. I used to think carpeted porches were kind of tacky, but I suppose they serve their purpose.