At the weekend I did another hive inspection, my second. The first inspection was accompanied by the lovely Sharon as a spectator. She is up for all kinds of crazy things and she had little fear for the bees themselves. However, her mild claustrophobia meant that I felt like I was supervising a child. I got her all sealed up in the suit as she muttered quietly to herself; “I don’t like this, I don’t like this”. Then I put my own veil over my head and spent a minute or two sealing myself up only to turn around and find her with the veil unsealed and off her head. She assured me that she only wanted to prove to herself that she could get out of it easily. For a second time I made sure she was sealed up and bee tight. I could now light the smoker which I have discovered is a bit of an art. With the smoker sort of smoking I was happy and ready to look at the bees when I turned around to find the lovely Sharon veil-less again. She explained that she wanted to make sure that it was easy to get out of and not just luck the first time. As I sealed her up for the third time she told me there were no guarantees that it would not happen again. So, I made sure we headed straight for the hive to make sure there was an incentive to not remove her hood and veil.
At the hive she became quite distracted by her first sight of the inside of a beehive (and only my own third sight of one). It is an amazing thing to experience. The noise, the sight of thousands of bees, the structure of the comb, the honey, the pollen, and most surprisingly; the smell. It is like a sweet concentration of wild flowers, the type of scent that you just want to keep smelling. My main objective was curiosity and my second objective was to find the queen. She alluded me completely and after three looks through all the frames the lovely Sharon observed the bees getting a bit angrier, and I had to concede and begin to put them all together again. Just as I was sliding the last frame in I caught a glimpse of what I thought was the queen running along the floor of the hive. It was only a glimpse but her long body caught my eye and I was seventy percent certain. So, not certain at all.
That was all a week ago. This weekend I did my second inspection and stopped when I reached frame seven of eleven frames. I stopped because I found the queen. She is the sort of creature who is easy to miss until you see her and then she is hard not to miss. I have yet to see any eggs but I have not really looked closely for them and I am a little happier that at least there is the egg layer. I will leave them alone now for two of weeks or maybe three? I have no pictures of these inspections and I will probably not have some for a while as I have broken my camera.
I do have one of the last beehive images taken with it.