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Hive Day 6

April 29, 2015

First let me say that there is more going on on the garden this spring than the new bee experiment and I promise I will get back to posting about these things.  But not today…

In the last post I referenced my concern with the comb alignment of these instantly busy bees and I knew I would really need to get in there and see if my “assistance” accomplished anything. On day 4 I noticed that the bees were pretty worked up late in the afternoon and by opening the trap door and peeking in through the window on the back of the hive I could see that another piece of comb had fallen, presumably one of those I “fixed” after loosening.  Great, ham hand strikes again…

It was in front of the door but not blocking it; I decided I would leave for the time being and “study” sources on the web.  I also noticed that bees were getting under the screen bottom and onto the wrong side of the dividing board in the hive.  Time was short and after letting those bees out I decided to reopen the hive in a couple days (Monday, day 6) and address all these issues….

So day 6 arrived and I came home from work and went out to check on the activity.  All the issues described above remained so I lit the smoker and suited up.  (Note: my issues getting the smoker lit were solved by using a small propane blowtorch I had in my plumbing tools for copper fittings. Thank you Professor Google.)

I used duct tape to seal the seams in the netting at the bottom of the hive; this was easy as the gaps were easy to spot since the wooden board bottom is on hinges.  I just opened it and worked from below.

As I started removing top bars I could see that more comb had been constructed but it was so covered with the living blanket of workers that the direction wasn’t completely obvious.  I discovered bars 3 & 4 were stuck together, undoubtedly by comb reconstructed in the spots were the cage had been and my “handiwork” had allowed their previous work to collapse.


In the following two pictures you can see what appears to be clumps of bees hanging from the bar; this is fresh comb that is still covered by the bee-blanket made up of workers building it out.



The general direction of the comb looked ok but with the dense cover of workers on it I wasn’t certain that it was in line.  Rather than sticking my ten clumsy thumbs into the area, I slowly pushed the bars back together and applied a couple of cool smoke puffs.  This scattered the workers enough to reveal the comb, including the second fallen comb spotted a couple days before.

Top Bar Comb

Satisfied, I filled the gap under the divider board that was allowing a few bees underneath into the unpopulated side of the hive. As I was replacing the top bars I noticed that the spline on the the one next to the divider had been coated as if a comb was about to be drawn there. I added a space between it and the divider board so that (hopefully) these illogical bees wouldn’t start building comb there that was connected to the divider…

No disasters.  Enough for one evening.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret permalink
    April 29, 2015 8:42 pm

    Will you have honey this summer?

    • April 29, 2015 9:47 pm

      The bees will… Whether they make enough surplus in their first season for me to be comfortable harvesting some is the question

  2. April 30, 2015 2:18 pm

    When our bees were building only slightly wonky comb we tried to straighten it and dropped the whole bar’s worth. That is how we learned to not work fresh wax when it is in the nineties. We removed the mess and the bees repaired the damage with egregiously wonky, unmanageable comb. 8(

    Since then we have learned the trick of adding empty top bars between two relatively straight combs. That way any slight curve does not get magnified as when the empty bars are appended.

  3. April 30, 2015 2:38 pm

    “But you have retired, Holmes. We heard of you as living the life of a hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South Downs.”

    “Exactly, Watson. Here is the fruit of my leisured ease, the magnum opus of my latter years!” He picked up the volume from the table and read out the whole title, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen.

    “Alone I did it. Behold the fruit of pensive nights and laborious days when I watched the little working gangs as once I watched the criminal world of London.”

    Exchange Between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, in “His Last Bow”

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