I checked on my hives the other day. This means opening them up and carefully lifting out each frame to see what the bees have been up to, if they’re bringing in enough nectar and pollen, if the queen is still laying well, and if they’re getting too crowded.
I love checking on my bees. They fascinate me, and I have so much to learn. This time, I not only saw lots of little bee larvae, but the bees on one of the brood (read nursery) frames moved aside long enough that I could see eggs. And I got to watch new bees starting to emerge.
All this staring at the bees takes time, and I’m not supposed to keep the hives open any longer than I have to, so as not to disrupt or upset them too much. And upset bees sting you. Which is why I am so lucky to have such gentle bees.
Here’s how it’s supposed to go:
A lights her smoker. She puts a net over her hat to keep bees away from her face, and goes over to the hive. She aims a couple puffs of smoke into the hive entrance, pauses, aims a couple puffs of smoke into the top of the hive through the inner cover, pauses, and then opens up the hive and starts peaking around. The smoker sits nearby, adding just enough smoke into the air to keep the smell around, and if A gets stung or takes too long, it is there to grab to mask any panic pheromones that get put out there. A closes up hive when finished, and repeats with the second hive.
Here’s how it really goes:
A lights her smoker. She puts a net over her hat to keep bees away from her face, and goes over to the hive. She puffs into entrance, puffs into top, and then opens up the hive and starts peaking around. She gets annoyed with the net over her hat because it keeps blowing in the wind, and takes it off. After A realizes she’s lost track of time in staring at her bees, she realizes her smoker has gone out. She has a lot of frames left to look at. The bees are so chill, she decides to continue. She closes up the hive full of still calm bees after she begins to feel guilty about how long she’s been bothering them. After debating, she moves on to the second hive without relighting the smoker and without putting her face net back on. She opens up the hive without using any smoke at all. She takes even longer on the second hive than the first, as the calm gentle bees just keep going about their business, seemingly unbothered by this meddlesome human.
In case you’re keeping track, I’ve had bees for almost five weeks. I’ve been stung once.