Friendly Bee on My Finger

I inspected Hive #2 today. The bees were so docile, I think I could have gone without any protective clothing. I took off my gloves afterwards and took this photo:

Honey bee on Phillip's finger (May 10, 2011.)

Honey bee on Phillip’s finger (May 10, 2011.)



The bees were bringing in pollen of every colour and crawling all over me after I took off my gloves. I keep saying this because it’s true: I’m so happy they’re docile. Or maybe I’ve become more docile. I had bees crawling up the sleeves of my shirt. I reached in and brushed them away. No stings yet.

I’ll post a video of the hive inspection if it’s any different than last week’s inspection.

P.S.: Just kidding about going without protective clothing. The bees played nice, but they would have been all over my head and in my hair if I hadn’t been wearing a hat and veil. Check out the video in the next post.

4 thoughts on “Friendly Bee on My Finger

  1. That’s cool Phil. It is 21°C today in the back yard according to my wife. I think I am going to switch my boxes around when I get home today so the girls start using the bottom entrance. The blue pollen is pretty amazing looking.

    Have you looked at using your top hive feeder yet? Or are you just giong to use a frame feeder?

  2. “I think I am going to switch my boxes around when I get home today so the girls start using the bottom entrance.”

    I’d wait until you have a chance to do it earlier in the day so the bees have a few hours to regroup before it gets cold.

    They began using the bottom entrance as soon as I gave them a new corpse-less bottom board. The bees in Hive #1 cleaned out some of the dead bees, but Hive #2 didn’t touch the dead bees.

    “Have you looked at using your top hive feeder yet? Or are you just going to use a frame feeder?”

    I’m using a top hive feeder on both hives now, but I’m only filling up one side of the feeders about 1/4 way up so the syrup is always fresh and doesn’t go mouldy. And I’m using craft sticks as floats.

    My two colonies always behave differently. Both hives now have a hive top feeder in this arrangement from top to bottom:

    Top cover.
    Insulation.
    Inner cover (in summer position).
    Hive top feeder.
    Top brood box (bottom winter brood box, virtually empty).
    Bottom brood box (top winter brood box, completely full).
    Bottom board (winter bees removed).

    And now Hive #2 (the one I inspected today) is using both the top and bottom entrance when before it was only using the bottom entrance.

    And Hive #1 is only using the bottom entrance, though it was using both entrances before I moved the hive top feeder directly on top the brood box.

    Hive #2 seems like the active hive now. I don’t know what’s going on.

    I was planning to use frame feeders because the bees can access the syrup without travelling too far off the brood cluster. But I went with the hive top feeder instead because refilling the it is less disruptive to the bees. The frames aren’t exposed at all when refilling it. And right now I’d rather leave the bees alone as much as possible.

    A frame feeder would probably work just as well though.

  3. I switched the brood boxes yesterday, cleaned the bottom board and checked the frames. There is not a lot of empty frames left in the hive.

    There are three frames to be pulled out. One comb was capped so I pulled that out and placed in a blank for the split later. There are a couple that are capped. Some more partially capped and other containing pollen and brood. I’m not seeing much room for additional egg laying other that what is being used now.

    That being said there are eggs and brood from the 2 – 7 position in one box within the hive. Position 8 has the new frame they are pulling out. I guess it is early for pulling wax isn’t it?

    I’m debating when or whether I should add a medium super or another brood box. I’m curious how long it will take for the bees to pull out fresh comb. They are making one the one frame now but 10 new frames are another story. But I do not want the bees to become bound and risk swarming. Maybe I should ask Rusty.

  4. “There is not a lot of empty frames left in the hive.”

    We have basically one empty box per hive. Hive #2 is way behind in building comb. At least Hive #1 has comb in its empty box.

    “One comb was capped so I pulled that out and placed in a blank for the split later.”

    I think your colony managed to build more comb than both of mine last summer.

    “I’m not seeing much room for additional egg laying other that what is being used now.”

    Really? That’s excellent. Mine have a whole box of extra room.

    “I guess it is early for pulling wax isn’t it?”

    I don’t know. I’m using hive top feeders now, but we’re still having some very cold days and nights, and I don’t think the bees are breaking their cluster much to get up into the feeders, which probably means they’re not building much comb. I might switch to the frame feeders after all. The cold just won’t go away. I think our bees literally spend eight months of the year stuck in their hives.

    “I’m curious how long it will take for the bees to pull out fresh comb.”

    If you’re just trying to get drawn comb for a split, inserting empty / blank frames between drawn frames is the quickest way that I’ve read about.

    “But I do not want the bees to become bound and risk swarming.”

    If you have lots of capped brood now, then it won’t be long before they’ve emerged and the queen will have all the space again for laying. I suspect it’s too cold for the queen to start laying flat out just yet. You’re probably fine if you just keep installing empty frames for now. I don’t plan to install another box until the weather has warmed up significantly, probably not until June. I want to see the hive bursting at the seams before I add another box. They should be able to draw out comb quickly at that point.

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