The Art of BEEing – building bees

Today was my first “real” hive inspection since welcoming the bees a few weeks ago.  The two other times I had opened the hive more than what was required to refill the feeder I simply did spot checks and had a quick glance at what appeared to be the busiest frame, which was more an exercise in me getting comfortable working with the bees than any other purpose.  Today I went a step further and took a good look at all the frames in turn, found the queen, and checked the colony for visible signs of trouble (and found none).

The bees seem to be settling in well.  There are enough comings and goings from the entrance that it appears the foragers are doing well, and last week I opened up the reducer from 3 bees wide to 7 bees wide – and at peak times it’s being used at capacity.  The colony is taking in 1:1 sugar syrup at the rate of about a gallon a week.  The bees are drawing comb at what I find to be an astonishing rate and I estimate that about 40% of the total comb area of the brood box has been fully drawn, with a bit over 60% either fully drawn or in process.  The center 3 frames are fully drawn and in full use with capped stores of sugar syrup “honey”, larve, pollen, and capped brood, with the frames on either side a mix of usage and comb still being drawn out.  Outside of those frames small groups of bees are working on expanding the comb growth to the other frames.  There are also signs on the central frames that brood has begun to emerge, and those drones which survived the rather violent evictions of the first week or so now seem to be well tolerated.

Despite the better than average wildflower bloom in the desert this year, we seem to be quickly heading toward the end of the natural pollen and nectar bounty that is spring in the desert.  I didn’t get the bees in time for the colony to be established enough to catch this year’s excess, but at he current rate of expansion I figure it will only be a couple of weeks before they have the brood box more or less drawn, at which point I’ll trade out the feeder for a super in hopes of at least getting the comb in place for next spring…

 

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