We had the coolest birds fly over the hive today. As we were suiting up in the bee yard and stoking our smoker, I heard a familiar gurgling trumpet call--distant sandhill cranes. Lorriane and Hans were with me and I asked if they heard it too, they did and this time, they sounded a bit closer. We watched the sky and about 30 seconds later, a pair of sandhills flew right over our hives. How cool. We have American redstarts, house wrens, and indigo buntings nesting at the bee yard, which are cool, but a sandhill crane flyover was just the icing on the cake. Lorraine and Hans both smiled at my complete abandon of all things beekeeping to catch a glimpse of the sandhills. Lorraine blogged our bees here.
The nectar flow is on! After a slow and easy start with our hives, they are going gang busters now! The yellow Hannah hive which stared off as kind of the stoner/do nothing hive has become the hardest working. She was the first to need a honey super and when we looked in today, she was ready for a second.
Here's a frame we took from the current super to put in the new super to encourage the girls to climb up and build further. The purple Yvaine hive and the red Juliet hive were both ready for honey supers, so we put boxes on top of them as well.
The green Wendy hive was given a Ross Rounds honey super a week ago and that is a bit of a gamble--but she had just about filled it completely up. I've been told that new bees don't do comb honey, but we always try with a new hive and they always make it. It's trickier, because with regular wooden honey supers, I just put in a small frame in a big brood box, wait for them to draw out comb on the frame and then include that frame in the honey super, they smell the drawn out comb and it encourages to climb up. Ross rounds fit differently and you cannot just slide one easily into a brood box. I usually wedge a piece of feral comb at the top to get a little bee smell in. Anyway, if you are a first time beekeeper and you have new bees, don't be afraid to try Ross Rounds comb honey supers, your bees may surprise you and fill them up.
It was interesting to note that almost all the foragers came back with very little pollen, they were focused on gathering nectar for honey. They don't carry nectar on their back legs like pollen, they have a special stomach for carrying nectar that they gather for creating honey. All these are returning, fat and full of sweet sugary nectar.
There was no bonking or stinging at the hives today (except for poor Cabal, one bee did sting him in the paw), otherwise, all the bees were very mellow and Lorraine and I just watched them work. It's such a pleasure to have happy bees this year. Last year, the Kitty hive was so angry and always so much work. This year, all seems to be going swimmingly, no one seems to be in the mood to swarm...and even if they did, I would let them go. We did take the extra step of setting up a small, empty hive on the off chance one of our hives swarms (or a neighbors' hive swarms) and hopefully, they will decide on that box for a home.
I had another cool sign at the end of the day. As I was walking to my car, I looked up and saw a small blob of red hurtling through the air, right at my head. At first, I thought cardinal, but the bird suddenly shifted left, and I saw it was a scarlet tanager. I'm not sure if it was chasing a bug or what, not sure why it would fly at my head like that, but I enjoyed the view and felt relief that it didn't actually make contact with my head. Wonder what that dud was doing so slow, usually they are higher int he trees.
After dodging the tanager, Lorraine and I headed out for dinner at quite possibly one of the worst restaurants ever. We had eaten there before last year and it was a decent Italian place, but things have greatly shifted. The best part was the desert. Here's a link to a photo of a piece of pecan pie that was served to us at the restaurant. That was before we even tasted it, the piece was that small. That set off a wave of giggles. Lorraine had a piece of cheesecake and we both took bites of our respective desserts at the same time. There was a pause and we just started giggling. I suggested we trade desserts and believe it or not, her cheesecake was worse than my pie size issues. What my pie lacked in size, Lorraine's made up with salt...that's right salt. It was very apparent that whoever made the cheesecake switched the amounts of sugar and salt. I'd never had such salty cheesecake. We were laughing so hard as we paid the bill, I'm sure our server suspected we were high on the wacky tabbacky.