Honey, honey, honey. (and my festooning bees).

Honey, honey, honey. (and my festooning bees).

Oh my.   Finally, almost a year to the day when I first received my nuc and set up my flow hive – I’ve done an inspection and there are frames of capped honey. (pictures below).   Luscious white capped cells of honey.  For so long I’ve been waiting to do an inspection and find capped honey.   I was almost beginning to worry the poor girls where incapable, and worried about what they were going to feed on over winter!  Katoomba seems to be a bit later than other areas – it’s late January, so we are well over halfway through Summer.  I will be interested to see how they go next year now the colony is a lot stronger.   This first year has been about building up the small nuc colony.    However lucky inspection number 12 has delivered! Capped honey cells in both the brood box (the end frames) and my Flow super – where I will harvest some honey from in due course.      The bees have been incredibly active over the past 8 weeks, and the scent has been strong.    Looking in the observation window of the flow frame during the week I could see the flow frame at the end being prepared and the gaps being filled with wax and complete cells filling with honey.  That was a special day when I saw that.    I guess they will be capped shortly.   (Picture below of the obervation window) .

Before my picture gallery – a little bit about my inspection.  (for my benefit really as this blog is my record).   The bees seemed so active over the last couple of weeks I was actually worried that there were too many for the boxes.   I am sure this isn’t the case given what I’ve seen on the internet.  I have read so many books from my bee library over and over trying to work out if I will know when the hive is too full.     What I have found out is that the norm in America seems to be to have 2 brood boxes before a super is put on.   The norm in Australia seems to be to have one brood box and a super.  (or more).    When the colony outgrows the boxes the options appear to be – self splitting (the bees raise a new queen and half the colony take off with the old queen – swarming. And if you are lucky enough to see this happen you can catch your swarming bees and put in a new brood box and start a second hive).   Or managed splitting – where I would split the hive with a purchased queen.    – All this is my figuring it out – and by no means educating anyone – so if someone stumbles upon this site – please do not take this as gospel!   For now – I don’t think the hive is too full.   What I am checking for is a Queen cell (peanut shaped cell hanging near the bottom of frames).  There was nothing.   I only check a couple of the brood frames.   I found lots of babies to identify the queen was still there.   Saw my honey frame with capped brood.  So I think everything is ok there.    A nasty wasp hung around so I packed the hive back up quite quickly as I didn’t want it upsetting or stealing anything from the bess.

The honey super was soooooo heavy – I couldn’t lift it high enough to get back on the brood box.  I have heard they get heavy – and now I know. 🙂    I couldn’t lift it on my  own and needed help from someone to grab the other side.  Unfortunately at that point the bees became agitated and my friend and I were stung.  Me once, my friend twice.      She saw they were really attacking the SLR camera she had been holding – which I am now aware of they don’t like.    [now makes sense – given I was advised at a course they don’t like sunglasses either – they look like bears eyes – so a big camera lens may be really imposing]

Finally I saw some festooning.   It’s like the lacework of the bee world.   Where bees link arms and stretch across the gap from one frame to the other.   It’s so wonderful and I was excited to see it happening for the first time.  (well the first time I noticed!)    I didn’t see any evidence of mites, and this time I didn’t find the queen.        A few bees were killed as we put the super box back on the brood box – and am really cranky with myself that we were not more careful.   Each inspection is a massive lesson.

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