Oh, bee-have

Or don’t as in our case.

Over the weekend, I noticed some unusual bee behavior. Of course, knowing very little at this point, I reached out to someone who does know bees. My bees had been pretty quiet since the installation of the package on Monday. But that day – the sky was full of bees over the hive – just circling. I though “Oh crap. They swarming. What do I do?” I called Mark (NRVBA president).

Again, many thanks to Mark for calling me back and being patient. It could be my bees were just checking things out. It could be a swarm from somewhere else. Take a peek inside and see what it looks like. So, later that day I did. Interestingly, the bees were clustered on the inside of the roof. I looked at the queen’s cage. Empty. That was good news. I removed it, checked the syrup jar (good), removed the empty package box and closed up the hive.

Well, Jordan took another peak at them Monday night…huge cluster still on the inner part of the roof. Huh? Mark….what is going on? (I am gonna make that poor man crazy with my multitude of questions). Well, I learned from Mark that the bees like the highest, most hollowed out area. If they are not beneath the actual top bars (which is supposed to be their “roof”) then they might be drawing comb on the inner part of the actual roof. Take a look and some pictures.

So – last night I took a look-see. Here is what I saw:

Bees on the underside of the hive roof

Bees on the underside of the hive roof

Another view of bees under the roof - not under the top bars :(

Another view of bees under the roof – not under the top bars 😦

I do think the bees were swarming on Friday. They left the beneath the top bar area and decided that the beneath the roof area was much better!

Drawing comb under the roof

Drawing comb under the roof

The comb was beautiful. This photo doesn’t really capture how pristine white the honey comb was. I saw babies (yay! That means they liked their queen, and she got busy) and honey. It smelled good, too.

The bees were very tolerant of my fumbling around. I did the best I could to knock all of the bees into a cooler and off of the roof’s underside (you can see several remained on the comb). I squirted them all with sugar water to keep them calm and occupied (I did not use smoke). Next I had to cut off that comb…carefully so as to not squash bees or completely ruin the comb. It was soft. I don’t know if it was soft because of its newness or because it was in the mid 80s temperature-wise yesterday. Anyway, I tried my best to tie the comb with some string to a top bar. I removed one of the follower boards, giving the bees access to 2/3 of the hive body. Cleaned and refilled the syrup jar. Then, I dumped the bees back in with a little prayer that they decided to enjoy the actual top bars. I put all of the top bars back, noticing lots of gaps that I couldn’t close up. Warped boards and perhaps imprecise manufacture of the hive? Who knows. When we build our own, we have detailed plans that I now know we will follow to a T!

Well, with all of the gaps between the top bars, the rim where the top bars rest, the roof and such, it is entirely possible that the bees will return to the inner part of the roof. I will let you know how it goes. Still, if that is where they ultimately want to be, that is ok by me as long as they are happy and stick around!

4 comments

    1. Excellent! Thanks for the advice. I have to hit a fabric store this weekend anyway. Will look into some denim. Is that the fabric of choice because of its weight or is there another reason? Thanks for looking in on my post and for sharing your expertise! It’s another reason I enjoy this process. A

      1. We are only starting our 3rd year so ‘expertise’ may be an overstatement. 8)
        Denim is probably favorite because it is easy to scavenge from an old pair of jeans but its weight,slight wicking ability, and usual dark coloring are all good qualities for this use.

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