On Sunday, we did our first big inspection with the Olga hive after having sealed her up for winter and my goodness was she active! With the sun and balmy forty something degree temperatures, we expected some activity, but they were buzzing around like crazy. I didn't realize how much I missed them, missed the smell of the smoker, the smell of the wax and hive, the buzz and hum of happy bees.
Here's my faithful bee assistant poking the bees during the inspection. Actually, Mr. Neil is not poking the bees, he's doing them a great service of removing a layer of dead bees that have built up at the bottom of the hive. There were so many that they were blocking the bottom entrance.
Ewww - a whole layer of dead, wet bees. We were a little alarmed to find that in the corner was a frozen puddle of bees. After Mr. Neil scraped out the bees, we decided to turn the hive around so that future moisture would be able to roll out, rather than collect in the hive. We did leave a hole open on the other side so that workers who were out foraging could find a way back in without too much confusion.
Part of the inspection included checking their food reserves. I had put in a pollen patty a couple of weeks ago (that's how bees get their protein). Last time, there was half of the one I left them last fall and I put in a fresh one for good measure. Sunday, there was only half of the fresh one left. I have a feeling that next weekend I will need to put in a new one. We checked for signs of brood. If there were three to six frames with brood, I was to switch the top box with the center box. I found three frames of brood, not a huge amount, but brood none the less. We went ahead and switched them.
Olga still had some good honey stores left--I think she's going to be busting out all over with honey this summer. She already provided us with extra honey her first year. I'm betting this summer will be intense. We noticed a weakness in the corner of the hive that had let in some moisture, probably from the last snow storm (the wind blew off the insulation and since it had been fairly warm we left it off). You can see it in the corner--the mold is the black stuff. The bees were probably soon going to cover the fungus with propolis, but we scraped it off.
While we were getting all of this done, the workers came out and completely covered us. Above is Non Birding Bill (say it like Eddie Izzard with me) "Covered In Bees!" Even though they covered us, they didn't really seem all that angry, they were more curious (I'd like to say, happy to see us, but that would be anthropomorphic now, wouldn't it).
We kept smoking our suits, but they would just come right back. Above, NBB is smoking Mr. Neil. For some reason, Mr. Neil decided to start our bee-venture by forgoing the sensible hood on his suit and putting on our spare pith helmet with bee net. It looked good, but left a space on his neck for bees to crawl in, so after much smoking and removal of bees, he put on his helmet.
The bees were really, really interested in the tops of our hoods. I noted this on Mr. Neil and NBB and tried to get them to pose bent over side by side because, together they looked like an odd pair of boobs with nipples made of bees, but when they realized what I was doing, they stood up.
Bee season has officially begun.
And to give you an idea of how loud our girls are on a forty degree spring day, here's a video. NBB says that if you listen to it with your eyes closed, it sounds like we're doing something naughty.