first tastes

Yesterday evening when I did a hive inspection and maintenance, words and phrases that I'd read or heard echoed back to me, becoming real; for one, I heard an echo of people snubbing top-bar hives because you have to destroy brood or kill bees in order to harvest honey. And I did indeed destroy brood yesterday (although I did not harvest honey). Upon looking into the hive's window on Tuesday, I discovered, instead of a clump of bees, bees on combs! They'd built all the way to bar 7. But not all of the combs were straight, and I knew that I had to get in there. Plus, the queen's cage was still in there, and this has been gnawing at me. But with all the bees clumped around it, I had no idea how to remove it. So, yesterday, I went into the hive with immense help from Brian.

The first thing that we found is mold in the hive. It's extremely damp in there. I removed the honey water in the ziplock back that I had placed in there to feed them and there were some dead ants floating around in that. I moved the false back to the rear of the hive, and then I worked my way up to the combs. The good news: the bees are not building comb along the sides, so the sides must be angled enough. Also, there's already honey! After two weeks and two days of getting my bees! There was also a lot of pollen stored up. And there was brood.

As gently as I could, I trimmed comb that was crooked and removed comb that wasn't being built straight across the top bars. We also managed to get the queen's cage out, which, thankfully, had not been surrounded in burr/brace comb (I'm still learning the terms and what all these things are). At first, the bees were fine with me being in there, but the closer I got to the front, the angrier the bees got, especially since I was slicing off edges of comb that were completely warped. We did use some smoke to try to calm them. 

My knowledge is scant, and I was so nervous that now I'm feeling overly critical of what I did/didn't do. I did kill brood. I did piss off the bees. But I was gentle and slow. I tried to save as much as I could. I evacuated the hive as soon as I could, once the bees had had enough (in fact, I need to go back in and remove some of the hive that was cut and left on the bottom). I replaced the bars carefully so as not to squish any. And I didn't rob more than the tiniest little lick of their amazing honey. I hate that I killed brood, though. I'm a baby bee killer. I'm haunted by the sight of bee larvae which looks something like this and which one beekeeper I found on youtube said could be disastrous for a young colony.

I'm trying to comfort myself with the notion that I did what had to be done in the interest of preventing a larger mess later on, with a queen's cage covered in brace comb and brood and bars that cannot be opened and would have to be destroyed.

It wasn't perfect but it is what it is.

We closed the hive back up and Brian leveled it out again and drilled some more holes in the bottom and on the sides for ventilation.

I have no pictures, because my camera's memory card has gone kaput. Great timing, I will sardonically add.

1 comment:

  1. sorry to hear about the memory card--awful timing. ebay is a pretty good place to find them way below retail. better the memory card goes than the whole camera, right? congratulations on your first taste of honey.