I’m officially in the bee murder’s club now and it doesn’t feel good at all.
Today was my first real inspection of my two queen hive. Yesterday, I lifted the cover briefly to see if they had chewed through the paper, which they had, and then slid the top hive over to remove the rest of it. I left the real “sticky” work for today.
After checking the top hive, finding the queen, eggs, larvae and capped brood, everything looked good. More bees had migrated to the top box, but the population was still small. The bees were calm, busy and bringing in lots of pollen. Their wax building left much to be desired, so after my hive inspection, I added a baggie feeder to the top hive to try to get them to draw out more frames.
There were bees in the honey super just mulling around, no wax building. I didn’t expect to see anything there.
In the top box of the bottom hive, they were actively drawing out 4 frames of wax. Finally! This is a very good sign. It has been a long time coming and very much-needed to build up the colony population. I hope they draw it out nicely and stop building that darn burr comb!
Now the bottom box in the bottom hive was where the trouble started. This hive has been cranky since they swarmed on June 10th. They were not queen right, so who can blame them. A brief inspection of this hive located, eggs, larvae, and capped brood but I could not find the queen. I think she was there since I saw eggs but I just could not locate her. This hive was still a bit testy and things were about to get worse for them.
This bottom hive loves to build burr comb. They have 3 frames which are filled top to bottom with honey drawn out far beyond the width of the frame. This causes the comb to be wavy, and prevents the bees from drawing out wax properly on the adjacent frame. The frames are heavy to remove and unwieldy to handle and I have been waiting for things to calm down in the hive to get rid of this wild comb. One frame had eggs on it so I left it alone, but the other two frames had to be cut. So carefully I stood the frame up over a cookie sheet and using my hive tool cut straight down, leveling off the comb. What I ended up with was a big sticky mess and at least 100 dying bees covered in honey. I felt horrible seeing them drowning in their own food.
After I put the frame back in the hive, the bees were mad. Luckily there were too busy trying to clean everything up to come after me too much. On the next frame I tried to smoke all the bees off first. Attempting to hold the unwieldy, unevenly weighted frame, the smoker and my hive tool was difficult. More bees ended up in the pile of honey. I put the frame back and put the hive back together, praying the queen in the bottom hive would be okay and not end up a big sticky mess like her daughters stuck to the cookie sheet.
I watched as bees climbed over the hive covered in honey and as a big puddle of honey dripped down the frames and out the screened bottom board. I left the cookie sheet full of honey and bees for them to clean up. I hope they do it fast, so some of those sticky messy bees will survive.
I still feel bad about it. I imagine if I had more hives I would get over it faster, but it is hard to take care of the bees, provide for their welfare, encourage their survival and then carelessly rip apart all their hard work and kill a hundred of them. I need to go to the bee murder’s recovery group now. Anyone wanna join me?