Sunday was an unusually warm day (hit high 40’s!) and it was warmer in the sun on the hives. I could see the bees flying from my kitchen window so I decided this was a great day to do a quick check. I had been worried because the cold stretched on for so long, I didn’t think the bees had a chance to break cluster and move to new areas of honey stores. As they exhaust the food supply in an area, they require a warmish day to regroup and move over to frames that have stores. Thankfully, today was their day!
I checked the orange hive first (Melissa) and found lots of bees—on the right side of the bottom deep, last time I think they were on the left. I planned to check the left frames and see if they had eaten their stores but as I set down the medium, I squished some bees (DAMN! You don’t want to kill off these bees when the queen isn’t laying yet!) and they just went after me. I wasn’t wearing my veil and as I high-tailed it out of there (what was I thinking???) one pissed-off bee got stuck in my hair and as I could hear her…then feel her…I tried to brush her out of my hair ever-so-gently and WHAM she nailed me right at the top of my head. Oh my Lord I could feel the pain spreading. I got into the house after getting rid of the suicide bee and had my husband try to find the stinger. The pain wasn’t as sharp as it was at first so I suspected I had removed the stinger (with my hive tool thank you very much) and yes, I had. While combing my hair to make sure any assassin buddies were gone, I saw the stinger fall out of my hair. So tiny and yet to powerful thanks to a venom sac.
After taking Ibuprofen and using an ice pack, I went to look at Demeter. They were also obviously flying although the numbers weren’t as high. I got to the bottom deep and saw the majority of bees 2 frames over from where I had last seen them. Curious, I removed the edge frames (where the cluster was several weeks ago) and looked at how the stores were consumed. The frames were almost completely empty except for a small pocket of uncapped stores. They were eating the bee candy I had made (I really dislike the recipe since it was super sticky and not super hard). I suspect I need to use corn syrup after all. I also looked for any possible brood and found nada though the bees were working on the itty-bitty pollen patty that was in there…
I got adventurous and pulled some frames the bees were hanging onto and found several frames with ~5″ diameter worth of bees. They were on both sides of the frames spread over 3 frames. I saw the QUEEN!! My 2011 queen, still kicking. Oh my, what a day. Despite the sting, I love going into the hives. I don’t want to disturb them too much by going in there frequently, but I really enjoy hive inspections. I hope they make it until the spring.
I assume my bees will try to replace Queen Penelope this season, if I see any queen cells, I may take her out into a nuc and let the main hive raise their own queen.