Summer isn’t a happy time for bees out here in California. It’s dry. Flowers are hard to find. Just keeping the hive cool can be a lot of work. The last time I checked in on them they had lots of honey and brood and passed the mite inspection with flying colors. I felt we were in good enough shape to put a honey super and queen excluder on and see if I couldn’t get some honey this year. That was at the beginning of June.
Today when I got up it was in my mind to check the bees. Donning a pair of coveralls, a hat, and carrying a hot smoker is not terribly appealing in high summer, but it had to be done. Whereas I’d been able to easily approach my happy beehive in spring wearing nothing but a pair of short pants and a t-shirt, I knew I needed to suit up to face a potentially defensive hoarde this late in the summer. So, on it went. Ugh.
What I found was a not terrifically happy colony. They haven’t done anything with the honey super, so that’s a drag, but c’est la vie. It would have been exceptional to get honey this first year. So okay. The two deeps were full of bees and honey and quite heavy, although I was alarmed at first because I didn’t see any brood. Yikes! Lots of capped brood cells, I even saw an emerging bee, but it took me several frames before I saw any brood. When I did see the little larvae, there weren’t that many. I didn’t ever spot any eggs, although the bees were getting defensive so I was moving as fast-slow as I could. So I am not sure what all that means. I didn’t see the queen, but I am god awful at spotting the queen. I have to go by the other signs to know whether she’s around. I saw brood and I saw bees bringing back pollen, which are signs that they’re still reproducing, but they weren’t very strong signs. Meh!
So I took off the queen excluder, and I’m going to start feeding them. I’ll check them after a few weeks of feeding and hopefully I’ll see brood in the super and feel okay about them heading into winter. What I don’t want to find out is that I’ve lost my queen because that will be the end of the colony. Meh!
Sorry to post without pics, it’s hard to take photos and handle frames and mind a smoker all at the same time. I didn’t want to burn the place down trying to do too much at once.