Monday, April 3, 2017

Helpers In The Hives

Time for the first hive inspections of 2017. One has already swarmed so I know at least one made it through winter strong. Now it's time to find out how the rest fared. There was a lot to see with strong buildup already happening, mold caused by standing ground water, and finding queen cells to determine who swarmed. The moldy hive didn't let the damp conditions interfere, and spent much of their time building extra comb in the top. Even the swarm had built 3-4 frames in a week. These girls are hard workers!

It was much more than a typical afternoon of communing with the bees. We had free labor visitors interested in learning about bees, and using that knowledge to mange their own hives. Hannah and Erica worked through several hives checking, cleaning, looking for queens, and listening to me ramble about bees. They even picked up my train of thought when I'd be talking, venture off to something else (SQUIRREL!), then come back around like I hadn't been down a rabbit trail for a few minutes.

The bees will be lucky to have them as their keepers! Hannah is 15, but handled herself like a seasoned beekeeper. She dove right in working the hives thoroughly while respecting the girls and not harming them. Mom was right there to assist the budding beekeeper, and both were exceptionally brave for their first time in a hive. I was impressed how calm they were. I remember how nervous and shaky I was my first time working with bees. Ok, I was terrified! Oh the poor girls I squished my first few tries.

During much of this my usual helper napped quietly in a chair near the hives. He did do a good job documenting our labors in between naps and occasionally directing our activities. That last part went about as well as the time he opened a hive without proper gear. I even made him stop and witness as I said "here it is, the beekeeper is putting her bee boot down, watch, here it goes, it's down, and that's what we're doing!"

I'm excited for Hannah and Erica to join me again. There's a lot that'll start happening as spring warms up and the honey flow starts. Plus there's the benefit of six hands to squish hive beetles. Bee activity is fascinating to watch and sharing it makes the rewards even sweeter!

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