I feel like all I talk about at the moment is bees, but I can’t contain my enthusiasm after an inspection on Saturday.  A few weeks ago I had to feed the girls during some bad weather.  Stores were low and I think their little buzzy spirits were low.  A week ago they had began to fill the brood area, that they should be using for baby bees, with the feed.  It also appeared that the queen had reduced her laying due to the weather.  At this point I stopped feeding then as the weather was improving.  So, Saturday’s inspection came and it was very interesting.

 thousands of them hide just inside the entrance

With my brand new ‘manipulation cloth’ in hand I headed out in very nice conditions and at the time of day when all they foraging bees should be out and about…foraging.  The manipulation cloth is supposed to minimise the bees disruption to an inspection by keeping most of them in the dark.  But, before I even got a chance to use the cloth I got my first surprise.  I began to lift the super box where they had previously shown no interest and thought, “eh?”  It was heavy with honey in the process of being made.  After this initial shock I carried out a full inspection and discovered lots of frames of baby bees.  The bees required no smoke, very little water spray and there was no pinging of my veil.  These were very happy bees.  I did spot, and destroy, a queen cup filled with royal jelly.  This means I really do need to keep an eye on them every week as we want to avoid any swarming if we can.

The last frame was a real treat as the bees had decided to use it as their main place to store  pollen.  It was fascinating to see all the little cells of different colours and shades that they had diligently collected.  I finally closed everything up and the cloud of flying bees began to settle themselves.  I had a quick look for anything I might have left lying about when my eye caught something bigger than the normal bee writhing around on the ground in front of the hive.  My heart plummeted and I might have actually cried out, “Noooooooooooooooo……the Queeeeeeeeen!”  Then I looked closer and a small seed of hope began to grow.  It was a drone.  There is still the real possibility that I, in my amateur handling, could kill easily kill the queen but chances are that she survived me on this inspection.  I picked up the dying drone (drones can’t sting) and sadly carried it to the chickens to see if they could help.  They like drones.

I have not forgotten about our chickens, they still seem as happy and as deranged as ever.  At the weekend I made a label for the egg boxes.  We give away our surplus to friends and family (or sometimes exchange them for cabbage plants) but I did the label to remind them to bring us back the boxes.

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