Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bee Update - A Learning Experience

I went to check the bees on Sunday. I wanted to make sure that the queen is laying eggs and that they still have enough room. I was able to pull a frame but I couldn't tell if it had new eggs. I don't think I did a good enough job of smoking them this time. A breeze was making it difficult to get the smoke into the hive and I didn't have the smoker going gang busters to begin with.

When I went to pry the first frame out, the one that had held the queen cells previously, all of the frames in the box tipped up for a moment and then fell a quarter of an inch or so when the frame I wanted came free. The bees didn't like that very much but with the one frame out I could see that they had drawn comb on the adjacent frames - plenty of comb that wasn't there last week.

It looked like one frame was already mostly full of new honey but I didn't pull it out. I started to lose my nerve and put the frame I had back in as the bees became more worked up. I put the top back on without the shim that was creating space for a feeding bag since they obviously don't need that any more. A few bees followed me as I walked back to the house but once again my ramshackle suit held up and I didn't get stung.

When I got back inside I pulled 13 stingers from my gloves (two were blown away by the kids when they were getting a closer look - the picture above shows 11). I am still a long way (maybe never) from the glove free hive maintenance I've seen in some of the beekeeping videos.

I made a half panicked call to Kirk, the Guru of the Backwards Beekeepers. Kirk called back and suggested more smoke next time, a knife to cut through the wax that might be connecting the frames and that I spend some time with Beekeeping For Dummies
(he didn't mean it the way that sounds - it's a good beekeeping guide and one recommended by the other club members too). He also recommended that I put my other box on ASAP since there is a ton of nectar available now and our olive trees are about to explode with blossoms any day. In fact I saw the first tiny olive flower of the season on the porch of the shack on Sunday.

I think I'll also upgrade my beekeeping suit and gloves so that I feel more confident when the bees get a little annoyed.


  1. Wow - good thing for your gloves. Meant to tell you that I love your beekeeping jacket, too...

  2. Thanks Mel. It is a very fashion forward beekeeping jacket. We'll see if I have the guts to stick with it.

    BTW - I rode to work 2 times so far. I am riding every monday - I'll post about it soon.


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