Another bee inspection
The kids and I did another inspection of our bee hive – this time with confidence and success I am pleased to report. Phew – I am getting better at this! This time both kids opted not to wear protective clothing – what is with this ridiculous bravery?! They lit the smoker for me – I am sure this is their favourite task of all time. Our mission was to find the queen and make sure she was in the bottom brood box. You may remember that in the last inspection just after Christmas we weren’t able to spot her.
We found the Queen – alive and well – hooray! She was in the top box and the bees had totally run out of space there. Six of the eight frames were totally full of honey. The other two had about half honey and half eggs or larvae. A full house indeed. We were able to move the frame that had the Queen and the eggs down to the bottom box and swapped another frame on top. Surprisingly the two new (empty) frames we had put in the bottom box last time were still untouched by the bees. I guess they weren’t going to focus on them while their Queen was in the top box and unable to get to the bottom box because of the queen excluded (grate) we had put between the boxes. I was so relieved to find the Queen alive, and to be able to move her down to the brood box without any drama. Not too many bees were killed or tortured during this process either. I have come to accept that it is impossible to do anything without squashing a few bees.
The kids and I had to quickly make up some new frames the next morning and add the third box on top as you can see in the photo above. This will give the bees plenty of room to expand. In fact we ended up putting the new box in the middle and the box that is full of honey on the top. I got Andrew to do this switch around a couple of days later when I remembered that this is how it should be. This saves the bees having to fly through the box that is full of honey to get to the new frames. They work so hard to keep just the right temperature and humidity in the box that all the movement would be sure to compromise that situation.
So now we know we have at least 8 frames full of honey and ready for extraction. Since it is a pretty messy business extracting honey, we will wait for a few weeks until the other box is also full before tackling that next step.