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A Hive of Activity

a frame from the hive

The new beekeeper trying to figure out what’s happening in there

The bees are getting used to their new home in our backyard.  They slurp up sugar water at a great rate, buzz all around on sunny days, and are quiet at night.  Sometimes we walk around the neighborhood inspecting flowers.  “Do you think that’s one of ours?” we ask when see a bee in a blossom.  The honey bees and the bumble bees seem to work side by side, though I notice bumble bees are still out when we take the dog for an after dinner walk.  The honey bees head home at sunset.  Such fun to have a new view of neighborhood life!

At this point in the season, the bees get home from work(!) a little later than we do (though they take rainy days off).  It’s fun to watch them coming in for a landing as they return to the hive.  Some are fairly precise, landing right at the opening, while others crash somewhere in the vicinity and crawl the rest of the way.

We’re filled with questions that arise in this process.  Should we cut down on the sugar water to encourage them to go for nectar and pollen sources?  How many flowers does one hive (12,000-15,000 bees–unless we’ve lost some) need to feed itself?  Are they eating pollen, nectar, or both?  Do they seek out the closest possible sources or go straight for the biggest ones (e.g. Duke Gardens)?  The queen is supposed to be laying by now, and Pakis is going out this afternoon to buy a second box.  We’re going to paint it and have it ready to put on top of the current one as soon as they fill up 6-7 of the 10 frames; that way they’ll have a new house ready and waiting, encouraging them not to “swarm” (fly away en masse to take up residence elsewhere).

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