There are reasons my old laptop is at the farm, and right now the main one seems to be to induce stress eating! But after 2 hours, I have pictures downloaded from my phone and have unsuccessfully looked through today’s buckwheat photographs in search of a bee in focus. The bees were generally camera shy in the first place, and trying to take pictures after 2 hours in the bee yard wasn’t ideal, so here’s a picture of bee-less buckwheat!
The bees forage on the buckwheat and wildflowers from about 8:30 a.m. to lunch. They show some interest in sugar syrup in the afternoon, but not as much as I expected. There must still be natural nectar sources available. I also saw three different colors of pollen coming into the hives this morning. I didn’t see much open brood in the hives I checked today, but the queens are still fat and each hive had at least 3 frames of capped brood, some nectar, and some bee bread. Most hives that were queenless last inspection now have active and healthy queens, but two NUCs have failed to produce a queen despite a couple of rounds of added brood. I added them to a some weaker hives using newspaper to divide the two colonies until they get used to each other.
We were low on 10-frame lids, so we’d temporarily double stacked some NUCs. Three of them were jam-packed, and I moved them to 10-frame boxes and even added supers to two of them. I didn’t see any small hive beetles yet, but I know they’re coming. Actually, they are probably already down at the lower apiary, but I still have 8 hives to check in the new location before I head down there. So far, the landscape fabric below the hives appears to be making a difference — or maybe it’s just the sunnier location.
It’s clearly been a good spring as areas that were clear spring break now have weeds taller than I. I had to cut a path to my hive before I could see if they have a new queen (they do). I’m waiting for a rain shower that will keep the girls inside to cut the weeds in front of the hive, but I may have to just suit up and sweat my way through that little patch one evening before I come inside. While they are not mean bees, they are a little more animated than I am used to from that hive and I don’t plan to sit outside after stirring them up. That said, they allowed me to do a full inspection this morning and any day without a sting is a good day.
Talking of stings, Bill Turnbull’s book Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper includes hilarious tales of bee stings and the incompletely thought through decisions that led to them in a way that makes me feel good about my own mistakes while imparting some basic knowledge for people interested in the sometimes crazy hobby / business of beekeeping. It’s an easy read and perfect for my tired brain one week into summer break. Anyone who describes a bee stinger as a hammer with a thumbtack attached (page 5) clearly knows what he’s talking about, and a sting to the face for a television host certainly has more repercussions than a sting to a face of a teacher who only has an audience of 100 or so on any given day!
I am greatly enjoying my active days at the farm. I still can’t quite believe that I get to stay here once school starts. The real work of getting the infrastructure in place for me to do so will start next week when Hubby arrives and we get to do fun things like install a new septic system! I guess that’s better than having to dig up an old one, and the new mini-home will be well worth the effort. The RV has served us well for two years, but things going scratch-scratch in the walls at 1:00 a.m. do not make for a good night’s sleep! Scratch-scratch is better than city life — at least until I come face to face with whatever it is!