Easter was last weekend and my parents shared dinner with us. After showing my Dad the hive, he asked if I remembered getting stung as a baby. I didn’t, and he told me the story. My parents had taken me camping and set my backpack down next to a picnic table and stump that housed a underground hive of wasps(?). I started screaming and when they checked on me, they discovered the bees. I was stung multiple times (as were they) before we were all safely in the car again. It put some perspective on both my fascination and the very physical urge to get away that do battle within me. curiosity always wins with me when it comes to the natural world!
After my earlier “robe mishap“, on my next foray to the hive I was properly dressed and better prepared to pull the bars and check for comb.
I started at what I think of as the “back” (feeding) of the hive – the end furthest away from the doors. I pulled a few bars above the feeding station just to give me some space (the bees were very busy down below and paid no mind to me) and then removed the first bar past the divider…nothing. The next bar…nothing. The next bar had some resistance to it and I bravely pulled away ——
Though I didn’t get much a view of it – there was indeed a stubby comb in the works! I was so proud of my little sisters…and so astoundingly overwhelmed by the incredible perfection of nature. It seemed strange to see something that wasn’t there two days ago built with such precision by these little creatures that didn’t seem to be doing much of anything. Nature is so…AWESOME!
The next combs were just as amazing:
I forgot all my earlier fears about bothering the bees. They didn’t seem to mind that I was moving the bar and comb they were working on – each time I pulled a new bar, a couple of guard bees pulled away from the others, buzzed around me and then promptly returned to the hive through the front door. Festooning bees dangled from each comb like trapeze artists, but all seemed calm and busy.
Until I got to a particular comb….then even just the jostle to prepare to lift it created quite an uproar – literally. The normal soft hum of the bees was turned up in intensity and sound level several notches and a dozen or more bees flew at me. I backed away quickly . There was no sense this would be a peaceful greeting – they wanted me gone.
I gently moved all the bars back together – no small feat as the hive was still very agitated and bees were climbing everywhere. I didn’t have one, but a bee brush would have been a perfect tool to push them down as my pitiful amount of available smoke didn’t seem to do much. (Later that day I visited my local apiary supplier BEEZ KNEEZ and got a bee brush even though a stiff feather from my collection would have sufficed. I also bought some material for the smoker to make my life easier until getting the thing going well and keeping it going became second-hand. )
I marked the end of that bar “Q”. I assume that Her Highness was on this particular comb and not up to visitors at the moment . I will be checking for her in a few days as I have not seen her yet.
The rest of the bars I marked with the date to remind me how old each comb was.
I replaced all the bars again and shut the lid, happy with my first hive inspection and elated with all the activity. I was proud of my bees and proud of myself for overcoming my fears. Iwas beginning to feel like a beekeeper!