This was yesterday when the temperature was in the mid 30s and the Humidex was 47ºC. What were they up to? Were they being driven outside by what must have been an even hotter temperature inside? Were they preparing to swarm because they had run out of space? Although swarming occurs mostly in the spring, it will happen when they need space. We don’t intend to stop the bees from swarming since it is a natural occurrence but I was a bit concerned that such a young hive might split before it had drawn all the honey comb, ie, winter stores, that it could. We had been surprised at how much comb they had drawn when we checked the hive for the first time 12 days ago, 22 days after we installed them in the hive.
There was only one way to find out – open the hive and check to see how full the frames were and whether we could see any queen cells. As you can see they have a very distinct “peanut” appearance. So once again we were up with first light and opening the hive. Once again we used only water in a spray bottle to distract them and moved very slowly. They were a bit more active and a few more were in the air but only barely.
What did we find? Well, they had been busy though a bit less so than 11 days ago which is not surprising since they had been working for 22 days then. All of the previous frames were much fuller and they had only started one new frame or possibly two. Most of the comb that they had drawn last time was full of brood and honey. We saw no signs of queen cells although I’m not entirely sure that we would have recognized one if it was under our nose. At least one of the more recent frames was mostly honey comb which is good since this will be their winter food supply. Next time that we open the hive, we will see if we can find the queen and we will look for drone cells.
Since only two of the ten frames clearly had no drawn comb, we decided to add four more frames by moving the follower board so that they had access to a total of 14 frames which would give them 6 free frames. Our hive accommodates 20 frames plus a follower board that allows us to partition the hive to a size suited to what we think are the bees needs.
If they need all 20 frames this year, we will make all twenty available to them. We don’t plan to harvest any honey this year except a 6″ x 6″ piece at Thanksgiving that our extended family can try. We want to leave the young hive as much honey as possible to take them through the winter.