“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.” ~ Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity.
Bees are on the move!
Everywhere, I see bees. Bees in my garden…
Wild bees at my kids school…
It appears the bee season has begun with relish! All the rain we have had the last few weeks has resulted in plenty of blooms and a resulting nectar flow.
The bees have been bearding at Melissa’s* hive. This is common in summer when it is hot and the bees hang out on the front entrance of the hive to cool down. But to see it at this time of year, when temperatures are still a bit chilly, bearding can be an indicator of overcrowding. Melissa had also noticed the bees bringing in lots of pollen and on sunny days, they were very active indeed.
So today, while the sun was shining, we decided to do our first inspection of the season.
Time to don our super-foxy bee-suits…reowl.
The first inspection coming into spring is usually a bit tricky. The hive can be completely glued shut with propolis. It took us bit of collective muscle to crack it all open.
As you can see, there was a bit of burr comb too, scraping it off and cleaning it took us longer than a routine inspection.
Alarmingly, we also found some waxmoth. We have Ezi-lift hives. While these are easy for us to manage, they create extra gaps for the moths to hide and breed. Luckily, Melissa’s hive is strong and robust, we actually witnessed bees attacking the moths once they could get to them. (If you have keen eyes, you’ll spot the larvae in the photo above) But in the warmer weather, the waxmoth cycle speeds up, so it’s something for us to keep an eye on.
We were not expecting to pull three full capped frames of honey off the hive today, but we did! The broodbox did have a good amount of room with eggs, larvae, worker brood and even some drone brood in there. So even though we didn’t spot the Queen, there was plenty of evidence there that she was alive and well. We added some fresh clean frames for her to enjoy.
But the bees were a touch cranky. By the time we have scraped the honey supers clean, we had left the hive open for longer than usual. The smoker ran out of puff when we reached the brood box. It was also pretty cool, with some occasional big clouds looming. And the waxmoth wouldn’t help. So that crankiness was perfectly understandable.
Overall, the hive has come out of the cool weather fairly strong and robust. Without any need for feeding with sugar or supplemental pollen. Fortunately, overwintering suburban bees in our Perth climate is no real drama at all.
It looks like all is set for a bumper season. We will now resume our fortnightly inspections, ensuring that the hive is well managed for temperament and to minimize the risk of swarming.
It’s so exciting! So good to be beeing again.
What about you? How is your hive faring?
* No, I’m not referring to myself in the first person (because that would be weird) But as coincidence would have it, Melissa is my bee buddy. Double coincidence, the name“Melissa” means honeybee!