This weekend I celebrated my first week as a beekeeper, and made another cockup.
On the face of it that shouldn’t be an issue – the bees had the five frames they arrived on and four lovely fresh new frames of wax to play with so missing one piece of plywood is no big deal. Except there’s this thing called bee space.
Bee space is nothing more than the space a bee needs to crawl through – it’s about 7.5mm. If they find a gap smaller that this then they’ll try to fill it up with propolis – ‘Bee glue’ – more on that in a moment. If bees find a gap bigger than the standard issue bee body they’ll try to fill that space with comb. So when I lifted the crown board off my sweet little Buckfast bees I was greeted with the amazing sight of freshly made comb hanging from the board in the gap where the dummy frame should be. I had to remove it, which didn’t please the bees at all. I’m sorry bees.
Back to the propolis – which they gather from plants, tree resins and anything else sticky and available. I was so surprised by the appearance of that piece of comb and the obvious implications that I’m an ignorant and foolish bee keeper that I made another mistake – the bees had been busy with the propolis. They’d glued one of their brood combs to the crown board – firmly enough that it lifted out when I took the board off but not well enough to stop it dropping to my feet with its hundreds of attendant bees, now enraged and turning the sky black .
I’m sorry bees, I brought you flowers – nice ones with nectar and everything.
On a more positive note the bees are doing well – despite my clumsiness. I’ve seen my queens at last, both marked in green indicating they were born last year so will be with me for a while, assuming I’m capable of looking after their highness’s well enough that they don’t abscond.
I’ve seen eggs – which is great because it means I know the Queens are doing their duty, and that there’s hope for me yet as eggs are a bit of a sod to spot being the same colour as the wax and very tiny indeed.
The workers are coming in with full pollen baskets and presumably insides full of nectar so thing hopefully both colonies will expand and in a few months time I’ll be plundering their nests for honey.