It's been five weeks since we became backyard beekeepers. What I love most is the opportunity that it has given us to learn so much about something we really didn't know about before. I've read four books on beekeeping from our library already to learn about what we're doing. We rented a Nova Program "Tales from the Hive" and watched that with the boys. They loved getting to see the bees up close like that since we don't let them go near our actual hive. Jeremy and I, on the other hand, will go out every day and stand behind the bee hive and peer over the top, watching the bees come and go.
Our bees reached the end of their "new bee" phase so we had a number of things we needed to go do with the hive this weekend. We came out to the hive to see two large masses of bees hanging on the outside of the box. Jeremy called to me and asked me if they were swarming (the great fear of beekeepers everywhere) but they were just hot. When they can't keep the temperature down inside the hive, some of the bees have to go hang out outside. The right temperature range inside the hive is important for the developing "brood" --the baby bees.
But that did tell us that we definitely needed to do the two tasks we had on the agenda: remove the entrance reducer and add a second hive body. We had an entrance reducer in because that's supposed to help the bees defend their new hive a little better while their numbers are still low. We waited to add a second box to encourage the bees to draw comb, essentially form the new honeycomb, on all the bottom frames before moving up into another box. The bees have a tendency to stay to the middle and move upwards when the chance is available. However, if you wait too long to add another box on top the bees feel crowded and start thinking about swarming off.
We've not actually seen the queen yet, but the fruits of her labor are self-evident of her presence. We'll get better at spotting her. We got the second hive body box on--so it's looking even more like a "real" beehive now. We're starting to almost feel like legitimate beekeepers.
There is another interesting fact about where we placed the hive. We faced it towards that tall fence. It's about 10 feet from it. Doing so encourages the bees when they fly out of the hive to then fly up over the fence. This encourages the bees to fly off at a level above people and animals. That is an important trick for suburban beekeepers like us to be aware of. It's no guarantee but it's worth a shot.
We hope there'll be more where that came from!