Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day #197 Forced Entry

When I suited up Tuesday to try to correct the problem in my white hive, I felt so much fear, my hands were trembling. The fear wasn’t OF the bees. It was FOR the bees. What if I had somehow or other compromised the health of the hive? What if I had inadvertently squashed the queen? What if my nightmare from the night before had come true? What if the pine straw was so wet from Monday’s rain that I wouldn’t be able to get the smoker to stay lit?

“Get a grip, Frannie!”

Thank you, to whoever said that.

The smoker did light and stayed lit. The funniest thing was that, when I blew the smoke into the front door of the hive, I had the strongest impression of calm, and it felt like it was coming from the hive itself.

I'd noticed on Monday that they didn’t seem to be drinking anything from their supplemental feeder jar (the one I’d given them when I couldn’t get the lid off the first time), so I pulled it off and blew a bit more smoke down into that hole. Then I righted the jar, so nothing would drip out of the little holes – and I saw that there weren’t any holes in the lid. I’d put the wrong lid on the jar when I was so discombobulated on Sunday.

It took me a longer time to pry up the lid far enough so that I could try to ease the hive tool under the overhang. I worked both ends loose first, being sure to stand at the SIDE of the hive, and not in front of it. As I’ve mentioned before, bees get nervous when someone stands in front of their door.

I went to the back of the hive again and lifted the top as far as I could, slipped the hive tool under it, gave the tiniest little push, and BANG! Whatever had been stuck let go and crashed back into the hive. Fortunately, it had only about an inch to fall, but that one inch almost scared the you-know-what right out of me.

I couldn’t believe my good luck that the whole thing hadn’t been cemented with propolis. Still, I tried hard to still the fear that somehow that dreadful crash might have damaged the queen.

With great trepidation I lifted the lid and saw . . .

a wonderful working thriving hive

Can you imagine the relief I felt? Of course, I still had to be sure the queen was in there somewhere, so I lifted out one of the frames. I had a few bees on it, but no comb to speak of. That meant there was still room for the hive to expand before I’d need to put a second layer on top.

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm catalog

The second frame was harder to lift, mainly because it was covered with bees, although it didn’t have more than half the area covered in drawn-out comb yet, and I didn’t spot a queen in there. Thank goodness for the frame perch I bought. As you can see from this picture from the Brushy Mountain website, it’s a sturdy metal thing-a-ma-bob with two brackets that slip over the side of the hive body. The two long pieces that stick out to the side are perfect
for setting the frames on after inspection. The perch made it easy for me to keep the frames in order.

Next I pulled up the middle frame – and there was a queen with a long, fat abdomen. She scurried a bit, probably looking for some dark recess, so I set that frame back in place.

I checked the two remaining frames, replaced the ones I’d taken out, and closed up the hive.

I didn't look for any larvae or eggs. I didn't register the ration of capped brood to capped honey. I didn't notice whether there were any drone cells. Oh well, at least I know I have a queen in there, and the other bees are happy.

Life is good, indeed, and all is well.

BEEattitude for Day # 197:
       Blessed are those who hear our messages, for they shall be comforted.
One thing Fran is grateful for right now:
       Those of you who read my blog


The Cat Bastet said...

Yay! I'm so glad to hear all is well and the bees are happy. :)

AggiePete said...

OK, time to exhale! So glad all is well and the Queen is safe & sound.

Fran Stewart said...

Thank you "Cat" and Petie. And yes, now we can all start breathing again!