Maud has been going great gangbusters, last night she was boiling over with bees...seven boxes worth! I've had to buy and assemble more equipment to keep up with her. The good news is she's got at least enough honey to get themselves through winter, plus, she's made enough for Jenny as well. Yay bees!
And Jenny...she's also doing really well, and as of the other day was still building wax, into her third box. Now they'll have a place to store all the sugar syrup I'm feeding them to build them up for winter. Overall, I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised at how much my two hives have accomplished in a relatively short time.
|Maud's mismatched clothes, and a growing Jenny. Both sporting little beards on a hot day.|
It should be noted that the bees used for testing were not killed, as they would have been if I'd have done an alcohol wash. They were roughed up some, yes, but I put them back in the hive to have their sisters clean off all the sugar and tell scary stories to the young bees about the danger of the measuring cup from above. The name of the game is to assess the mite levels and treat accordingly. Oh, and report my findings to the University of Minnesota so they can add it to their database. A few seasons of testing and treating should give us a good start on mitigating those pesky mites.
Meanwhile... the bees maintain an internal hive temperature of 92 degrees; keeps the brood warm, and it's not so hot as to melt the wax. When the weather gets super hot, they like to come out and relax on the front porch for a spell. If they had lemonade, I'm sure they'd have a nice, cool glass. This behavior is called bearding. I got some really amazing shots of Maud's full-on lumberjack, and Jenny's little soul patch.
|A close up of Maud in late July|
|Labor day...it's a little patchy, like Patrick Kane's beard.|
|Just a little bit of peach fuzz for Jenny|
Here's a fun fact about bees: In the fall, when they're protecting the honey they're going to need for the winter, bees get a little...testy. Even Gentle Jenny is on edge these days.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to check up on them. When I get to the bee yard, I usually give a quick peek under the hood of Jenny before I suit up, and this day was no exception. Sure enough, she and her clan were as calm as could be, barely noticing as I pulled all their frames and poked around. I was wearing shorts, sandals and a sleeveless top, and hadn't even bothered to light the smoker.
Everything was fine, so I buttoned her back up, and went to peek into Maud. I got the covers off without so much as a how-do-you-do, so I figured it was a good day. Suit and gloves are still in the car and I'm not worried. I got the top box off, again, without a hitch. Then I went for that second box. It was heavy and full of honey. I needed to pry it off since they had glued everything down with propolis. (A resin they collect and line the hive with. Full of all kinds of good stuff for bees and people.) I shoved the hive tool between the boxes and the sticky goo gave way with a slight lurch.
There was no warning.
It's amazing how fast those cute, fuzzy insects can turn into tiny killing machines. They rise straight up, and WHAM! they're on you.
Before I could drop the box on the stack and run, they were stinging me in the softest places I have. The first one was on the side of my boob, the second one was in my uncovered armpit.
I started to run, fast.
They kept up with me.
I ran past the car and grabbed a glove so I could pelt myself with it while I ran three yards away. (That's yards, as in backyards. If the neighbors had seen me, they'd have been wondering who the hell this crazy woman was running on their property) Running, flailing, running through branches, those killers were relentless. I had been wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses. As a couple bees got caught between my glasses and face, I ripped the hat off my head, undid the ponytail, and flapped my hands through my hair to no avail. Mind you, I'm still running at this point.
Finally, the bees that were still with me managed to either give up or sting me. My tally for the day was seven stings. The two in the tender places, two on my head, one on my butt, one on my back and one on my foot. I took a minute to realize whether or not I was having any trouble breathing or showing any signs of anaphylaxis. I wasn't. I retraced my steps to retrieve all the stuff that had fallen off of me. Hat, gloves, ponytail holder. I lost one of my good hair-pretties.
So much for doing a re-test for mites that day. I put the suit on and put the hive back together, and went home. I found two stingers still left in me. The one in my armpit, and one on my head. Of the seven hits, those were the only two that swelled up. My eyes were half closed, and my forehead looked like a Klingon's but I went to work anyway. I looked quite sexy, indeed.
|Two of the stingers...|
|Kind of looks like me, kind of doesn't.|
The moral of the story? Wear the damned suit in the fall! Oh, and pencil in those eyebrows.
It's September now, and that means it's Goldenrod Season. This is a second honey-flow that's crucial for gathering honey for the winter. Some years we get it, some years we don't. We're getting it this year, and I'm proud to say both my hives were building new wax to accommodate it.
One thing all of the experienced beeks have said about goldenrod is that you'll know if it's flowing before you even open the hive. They're right! I can't get within 10 feet of them before the smell hits me square in the face. As one beek on reddit said "It's the odor of fall salvation. Without it, the bees wouldn't be able to make it through the winter."
So what's that beautiful, glorious smell?
Dirty feet. Stinky, sweaty, swelly, dirty feet.
|Just bee your selfie!|