Talking about the mysteries of bees



Bees have made us boring. Whenever anyone asks me how the bees are I narrow my eyes at them calculating how much detail they can tolerate. Let me tell you, this is one detailed hobby. I’m furiously reading through The Hive and the Honeybee trying to catch my learning up to my observations. Ted calls our mentor once a week with the “why the heck did they do that?” questions for the week.

On the current mystery list:

  • Why did the bees suddenly boil out of a hive, surround the opening, and then go back inside? It’s not hot enough that they needed to cool the hive down.
  • Why did the drones suddenly boil out of another hive, buzz around for a bit, and then go back in?
  • What are the bees in the new hive doing in the cinder blocks supporting the hive?

The best established hive, Knossos, continues building comb. If we get any honey this year it will be from this hive. The hive left from the swarm, Phaistos, is our weakest hive, with aging workers and (hopefully) a new queen. We are dying to know if she hatched, flew, mated, got home safely, and is laying eggs. An inspection is in order, we’re working on getting our mentor out to help us find her and interpret what we see on the comb. The new hive Tylisos seems to be doing fine and is happily drawing comb on new bars.

I go out to the hives first thing in the morning to see who’s up and about. The mason bees fly earlier, Phaistos always wakes up later than the other hives. Ted goes out at midnight and listens to the hive. So we fuss over them.

The masons worry me – one of the three capped tubes was breached, by what predator I don’t know, but the other two tubes still seem to be okay. I can’t really do anything with them as they’re in that delicate place where one jar will move the egg away from its food. I just look at them and hope they’re okay.

Our neighbor called us while we were away for the Memorial Day weekend and asked if he should do anything with the bees – very kind of him! We said they should be able to do without our hovering concern for a few days. As soon as we pulled into the driveway Ted and I both ran out and checked the little windows to make sure they were still there. They did just fine without us!

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