Hive inspection 7 Feb. Strips out, honey supers on.
Wow. Apple hive – I really have to do something about that hive.
I removed the mite strips, and took off the top full-depth boxes. They have been replaced with 3/4 depth boxes, ready for the bees to fill with scrummy, yummy honey. I have a policy to only put 3/4 boxes on when there are no chemical treatments, and only extract honey from the 3/4 boxes – full depth is for bees, and no chemical residue ends up in us. Next year I need to get the mite treatment in sooner, perhaps 3-4 weeks.
In saying that I removed the mite strips etc, I didn’t quite detail the process properly. Olive hive was simple enough – lift off the top full-depth box, prise the queen excluder off, remove 4 strips, examine some of the frames for honey, brood, capped brood, and pollen. Prise the boxes apart and lift off the box, remove 4 strips, and examine some frames. Put back together again, leaving off the top full-depth, replacing with a 3/4 box, put on the top board and cover. Easy. A child could do it.
Now, Apple hive, the process was a little different. Lift off the cover, prise up the top board, trying to ignore the dozen bees flying straight out at my face. lift off the top box, and prise off the queen excluder, ignoring the couple of dozen bees head butting me all around my veil. Remove 4 strips, and examine one frame – it was pretty full, brood and a halo of honey. Notice the bees flying around my face were a touch closer than usual, yep, inside my veil.
I removed the veil carefully, trying not to flap my arms or push my face against an angry sting machine. I succeeded, and found that in the half second it took, my legs had automagically taken me halfway around the house. I was still pursued by a half dozen very angry girls, which kept up with me through a full 3/4 circuit of the house. NOT FUN. Beloved was watching the process through the lounge, dining room, and kitchen windows, only raising one quizzical eyebrow in question.
Smoke. Yes, smoke always calms bees. So I light up the smoker (newspaper, puff puff puff, small bits of sacking, puff puff puff, all good). I then have another go, and work hard to prize the boxes apart, as each time I lift up one end, the other sticks down again. My trousers rip, right between the uprights – it is here that I pray that Murphy is kept busy, and the Karma bus is stuck in traffic. So here I am, puffing away, also puffing smoke, with hundreds of angry girls hitting me, stinging my gloves, and expecting at any moment to feel that horrid pain in the meat-with-two-veg. Thankfully I get the box off, without any stings to the wedding tackle, but then more bees up close in my veil. The panic of having bees actively flying into my eyelids and nose is beyond description, and so I remove my veil again. This time I made a good 80m without conscious effort, but with a buzzy escort.
Beloved raises the other eyebrow, with just the tiniest smirk.
I managed to get all bees out of my veil, and the veil back on, while still getting tiny body blows from head-butting bees, after a full circuit of the house. Once again, back to the hive. By now, there were boxes on the ground, and clouds of bees humming at an F# pitch, and WILD. I was still puffing smoke – I’m not sure how. Finally I managed to remove wax encrusted strips from the bottom box (screw inspecting frames, I’d had enough), put the boxes together, and get out of there. No stings. Miracle.
Beloved: “I see you were getting some exercise. Nice.” Yeah, nice. I have got to either do something about that hive, or get better gear.