I've decided to sell some splits this spring, and one of the guys buying from me dropped off a nuc today. So I'm showing Bill my bees, and I don't know what happened with them, but they were very badly behaved all of a sudden. They were harassing and stinging me -- I wasn't even opening any windows, but they were horrid. Even back by the house, which is not even close to the hives, they were still attacking me. It was so embarrassing. I know bees tend to be more defensive in the early spring and fall, but what the heck? They've morphed into assassins!
This afternoon, I decided to check on Hippolyte since she's the one hive that I haven't inspected yet. I donned a jacket, veil, gloves... the whole shebang. She was testy, which I had expected. What I hadn't expected was seeing brood comb being backfilled and capped drone brood. It's barely even spring yet! I shoved a whole bunch of empty bars in between comb at the front of the hive, one in the middle of the brood nest, and a whole bunch between combs again at the back. Hopefully, this will slow her down a little.
Concerned about the other colonies, I decided to check them all.
Not making any drone comb yet, but I removed two bars of honey anyway and gave them to Austeja to make space. Also added an empty bar before and after the brood nest.
She's the weakest colony, so I made some space near the entrance for her. Also added one empty bar after the brood nest as well as bars between honey combs in the back.
By the time I got to Elsa, it was around 4-ish. She was not enjoying being inspected and let me know it with two stings in the legs (actually, I got stung even more, they just didn't penetrate my clothing). She was in the same situation as Hippolyte. All the empty bars I gave her last week were being built out with drone comb, and there were plenty of capped drones to boot. Gave her lots and lots of space before and aft of the brood nest. Also gave her three bars directly in the nest itself.
Peach and Buttercup (nucs)
I didn't get to these two. I started to open Peach, but she was angry, too, and immediately covered my face with a thick mat of bees, reminding me of that Irish ballad, "The Long Black Veil." It was just as gloomy a situation, too. Then I got stung on the face right through the mask and decided that if I didn't give it up, my DH would have to "visit my grave while the night winds wail."
At least I was able to make space in 4 of the colonies and mark the honey bars from last year. As I make splits, those will be the first ones that get used. Actually, last year's honey may have to come out soon, too, just to make room, but I haven't any place to put them right now. At the moment, Bubblegum has about 3 empty bars. With their newly added empty bars, Elsa and Hippolyte are out to around 26 bars now -- and the hives hold only about 32 total.
Also, I need to start planning for splits soon since it appears that swarm season will soon be upon us. Another beekeeper one town over reported seeing drone brood in his hives today, too.
Since some of my drone brood is capped, I know it's at least 10 days old, maybe older. Let's say 10 days. That means ~2 weeks until I start seeing drones emerge (April 6) and then another 10 days before they're sexually mature (April 16th). Queens, on the other hand, take approximately 16 days to emerge, so it appears that I can start making splits early as April 1st this year. Crikey, that's early! Even though I'll try to delay splitting until mid-April, my agenda for tomorrow has been revised to include lumber shopping and some woodworking. Sigh.
How are your bees? Are you seeing an early build-up, too?