The Queen, Golden Boys, And Honey!
I’ve been completely lost as to how long its been since I opened what hive, with all the swarming that’s been going on. So today I decided I would deal with both hives. Its been about a week I think since I captured the last swarm, so I figured now would be a good time to combine the two colonies back into one. I knew as soon as I started it was going to be chaos.
So, first I had to level the area (in my suit mind), because the current setup was completely unstable. Once I had the ground around the hive mostly level I picked up the top box (which was more than half full of fully drawn frames) and put that behind me. I then had the fantastically awkward and difficult task of moving the lower three boxes all at once to sit on the large stand that White Hive is on. From there I quickly moved the hive’s floor and switched out the two small square bricks that it had been sitting on for two, much larger, sturdier, rectangular bricks. The floor went on those, and then the three boxes that had originally been on it. I propped up one corner with a piece of bark to keep the floor steady, as the bricks weren’t perfectly even and caused some trouble. That done, I pulled off the cloth from the top box, put a single sheet of newspaper down, and put the top box on top of that. For some bizarre reason, the cloth that fit the 3rd box didn’t fit the top box, so the top box now has two sheets of cloth on it, as one is treated and the other covers the whole thing. The quilt and roof were put on and I moved on to White Hive. So, Trunchen Hive is one colony again! I didn’t bother looking for the queen, because there was absolutely noooo way I was going to find her in the chaos of wax and bees.
Now, onto White Hive. Where to start? The bees have finally begun producing enough wax that they’re drawing out the frames in the super. Until recently they’d been doing nothing but connecting the frames throughout the hive. There’s a fair amount of hone in the super, so I’ll definitely get to take some out at the end of the year. Or probably even sooner really. The top box is somehow lighter than it was last time. That said, they were capping honey all over the place, and had a full frame that was oddly right in the middle of things. So, I took it out for harvest. It’s early enough in the year that they will definitely make enough to replace it. And they’d probably survive the winter without it anyway.
I have some very exciting news! Not only did I get to see some GORGEOUS drones, but I found the queen! And my neighbors were over, one with his camera, so I got pictures of her! The drones were the same color as that golden girl I showed you all awhile ago, from my aunts. They were almost solid yellow, with a thin band of gold around the ends of them.
I was lucky enough to get two of them side by side, so you can see just how different they are from one another. They’re about 2 inches to the right of my finger, with the darker one standing on the patch of capped brood. Isn’t he lovely! There was a large clump of these boys hatching today (several frames of brood were hatching actually) so I left them alone because they’re just so pretty!
Two or three inches to the left of my finger you can see the queen climbing up the frame.
Here she’s just above my finger. I’m sorry these pictures aren’t any better. My neighbor has a huge fancy camera so I expected extremely close shots, but these were the best he had. Anyway, She’s nice and plump from laying so much! She’s also a much lighter color than her mother, but not as golden as the drones. Though she does have a similar dark-gold band at the end of her.
There was a lot of space going to waste in the lower box, so instead of moving all the frames around I just switched the two brood boxes. The queen and brood are now on the bottom, with a lot of ripening honey and pollen above them. There’s enough space that the queen should happily move up into the top brood box.
On to extracting! The frame I pulled had wires through it, instead of plastic foundation, so I was able to just cut the honey/wax out with a butter knife. I put this all in a turkey pan like last year, and used a fork to break all the cells and get the honey out. Right now I’m letting it separate a little and then I’ll strain it out as best as I can, into half-pint jars. This single deep frame has more than half filled the turkey pan, which held 3 full frames from the super last year. I’m impressed. I’m also surprised by the color! It’s much lighter than I anticipated! It’s practically pure clover compared to last years black stuff. It’s got a much lighter flavor, but still warms you up while you eat it. Not quite so much as last years though. I’ll let you know how the extracting goes. With any luck I’ll have a few pints bottled by tomorrow!
I wanted to add boxes to my aunts hive, but my cousin has yet to make them. He’s started putting two together yesterday, but my aunt is adamant about having windows so it’s taking him a lot longer than it would’ve if they were just plain boxes. I’m unsure if this long delay will cause the bees to swarm, as a large group of them have already spilled out onto the landing pad because there isn’t room for them in the hive. They’ve been like this for several days now. I would blame the heat, but it was in the 60s today and they were all milling around the entrance even as I was leaving at 8:30 last night. I’m really hoping he gets the boxes done tomorrow! I may just end up working with my neighbor to make myself the two more boxes that I want, because I’m really not interested in waiting another month for mine.