I said I was going to feed Buttercup and Elsa, but I haven't all week. I've had quite a lot on my mind and so have been very lazy regarding my bees lately. However, observations of the entrance show an influx of pollen and honey. You can tell a lot from watching and smelling the entrance. Actually, as my experience has progressed, I've begun to rely on external observations more and more, especially after the summer solstice.
All the hives have busy foragers, but today, there was a skirmish outside one of the nucs. I haven't had much of a problem with robbing, but Buttercup's guards were ganging up on an intruder.
In the past, I've always felt a bit of incredulity watching nature documentaries. How can the people making them just stand there filming a baby animal being eaten? Yeah, yeah, even wolves have to eat. But how do they just roll the cameras when the babies simply need a little help, like a penguin stuck in a crack? How do they not intervene? Are they made of stone? Well, look at me now. I'm one of them.
Regarding the two package hives, Persephone & Hippolyte, I can't even remember the last time I opened them. It's probably been more than a month ago already. Doubtless, things will be quite interesting when I finally do take a peek inside. My fault, but I just can't -- at least not until we're into fall and I'll be only too happy to wear impenetrable armor from head to toe. Besides, I figure we're well past the time of active comb-building, so my hope is that any cross comb will be minimal and near the divider board.
Persephone gets a lot of shade, and her bees are coming and going, but she's never built a lot of comb and doesn't smell of honey at all really. Hippolyte has loads of activity and just oozes a sweet, sticky scent.
The only hive I opened today was Austeja because she's the one that I pretty much expect to take some honey from. Near the divider, the last couple of combs have only a tiny bit of honey, but they have some, which is a good sign. I only looked at two of the combs in the nest, but they are being backfilled very nicely, indeed! Also, there are two partial combs on their way to being capped as well as an additional full comb that is quite full of nectar. In all, she has about 20+ combs that all have some amount of honey. While 20 combs doesn't seem like much, but she also gave me 4 nucs this summer, so I'm quite pleased with her.
|Drone comb being backfilled with honey|
Austeja is normally the gentlest colony you could desire, but this time of year seems to give bees PWS -- Pre-Winter Syndrome. Even the sweetest of bees get really cranky and sting-happy. Bearing that in mind, my usual tank top was swapped for long sleeves today, and I'm so glad made the change! After about 3 bars in, they began buzzing like mad. Another bar in and they were pouring out of the hive and whirring around me. PWS couldn't completely warp their normally polite nature, though, since they didn't even head-bump me once.
One thing that surprised me about Austeja is that she was building out the partial honeycombs. Normally, without constant feeding, it's very hard to get them to build anything after the spring flow ends, so I'm thinking this must be an ok flow right now. I'm going to try leaving them alone for the next week, but I'll check again just in case. I definitely don't want to get caught with my pants down and have a late-season swarm occur.
How are your bees? What's your flow like?