Finally! This afternoon I was able to fully get into the hive. The wind was crazy, but the temps were in the 70’s and just like any other week in New England tomorrow it will be raining followed by a week in the high 40’s. So today was perfect to take apart the supers and get a look at the brood.
After arriving at New Eden Community Gardens and pulling out all the equipment to get into the hive. I realize that I do not have a full suit, but a jacket with hood and gloves and I am wearing shorts (I thought I had a full suit don’t judge). The gentleman that has his property (and magnificent gardens in his own right) bordering the community gardens stopped by, he is one of 13 people besides myself that help out with the bees. I explained to him that the hive needs a water source and how I was going to set up a dish with rocks so that the bees do not drown (well have you ever seen a swimming bee?). I told him that I would be putting something together when I got back from running home to grab some pants. He very graciously said that I could use his water as he was unsure if the water was running in the Community Garden yet.
Upon returning from home and dressed properly this time I find that the gentleman that I was speaking with had set up what I had spoken about. The bees thank you!
Before arriving initially I had made another half gallon of simple syrup with Fumagilin-B to get the hive over the hump before the blooming of plants. I also grabbed some matches to light the smoker. I had considered just using some simple syrup to spray the bees with but after researching this method, I decided to just stick with the smoker. Someone had put together some newspaper and sumac florets as fuel, there was also a waterproof container with matches. I grab all the equipment and place it in a basket, grab an empty super and the half super that had frames in it and to the hive I go. Yep it was heavy, but much like taking groceries out of the car. You will pull you shoulder out of its socket before making multiple trips! You all know what I am talking about!
I take the smoker and place some sumac in the bottom and then stuff some newspaper in. I grab the box of matches and promptly spill them all over the ground. Yep, perfect! I then try again and this time I am able to light the matches, set fire to the paper and then throw in some more sumac. I had recently watched a You Tube video on the lighting of a smoker and how easy it is to keep it lit. Freakin liar! Such a freakin liar! I was able to get the smoker to stay smoking when I was done with the hive! I must of lit that thing about seven times before it stayed burning! To be honest, not really convinced that it helped at all! I will try it a couple more times to judge but I’m leaning towards not using it.
I put on the gloves; grab the hive tool, bee brush and smoker and step up to the hive. I smoke the front entrance and then I lift the outer cover to lay some smoke through the hole in the inner cover. This is when the smoker goes out the first time. I relight it and lay some smoke down the hole and place the outer cover back on. After waiting a little while I take the cover back off and lay it upside down. I then remove the inner cover and with it came the medicine frame that had been placed on earlier, the bees had glued it together. These were separated and scraped down to remove errant wax build up, propolis and dead bees. These were then placed onto the outer cover which had also been scraped down.
Now I take a good look into the hive and I am stunned! There is honey and way way too much of it. There is so much honey that I can’t pick up the deep supers and am having trouble picking up this half super. So I start by trying to remove one of the frames and it takes me a while because the bees have glued them together and to the super. After a bit of prying with the hive tool I am able to remove one of the frames. There are a few guard bees on it and a few dead bees. I scrape off the comb that had been built on the bottom and removed the propolis and dead bees from the sides and then set the frame in the empty super. When I grab the next frame it collapses from the weight of the honey. This is when I stop what I am doing and make a quick call to Crystal Bee to see what I should be doing as I really have a mess on my hands. What I am told is that the honey must be extracted. Not all of it, because we want to leave some for the brood, but a large portion of it should be.
Continuing with the exploration of the hive, I stop here again and re-light the smoker three more times (grr). I am now onto the first of the deep supers, I am finding much of the same as the half super. It is completely drawn out and filled with honey. Hold on a minute, it has just occurred to me that as I write this, I realize that there is an extra deep super. Somehow between the visits another super has appeared. When I had first visited the hives there were two deep supers and a half one on the hive. I have pictures of it and can prove it. I went into the half super and one of the deep supers, then there were two supers left. I really would like to know who added the deep super.
So aside from this mystery, I encounter much of the same in the deep as was in the half. Honey honey and more honey and some of the frame collapsing. The next deep is where the brood and queen is. It is chock full of bees and quite heavy. I do not want to get into it yet because of the mess I am facing with the honey. So I set that aside and look into the bottom super. No honey, plastic frames and a black substance on some of the frames. It looks and feels dead, I’m not using it. I set the whole deep aside and clean out the bottom screen of hundreds of dead bees, very sad!
I place the brood super on the bottom with the two half supers next. I mix the undrawn and the drawn comb frames between the two half supers. The final deep is set on the top and the covers are placed back on the hive.
After cleaning up and putting out the smoker I head up to Crystal Bee to grab some new frames, wax, wire and a wire tool so that I can replace the frames that broke. I am hoping to get back into the hive, but it is suppose to rain tomorrow. The longer it takes me to get back into the hive the more the bees are going to run amok! AKA, just filling the crap out of the super.
I will be grabbing an extractor tomorrow and hopefully will be able to get that done, return the drawn out comb to the hive and get into the brood to see if I can identify her majesty!
- New Eden Community Gardens, http://www.newedengarden.org/
- Bees, The Beginning Adventure, https://thesuburbanreaper.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/bees-the-beginning-adventure/