I haven’t felt like much of a beekeeper of late, as I haven’t actually done anything with the hives save look through the side windows for over a month. Since the split back in the middle of June it has been unseasonably hot and I haven’t wanted to disturb the comb for fear of it collapsing. I also didn’t want to disturb the bees more than I already have. I found a quote from the How-To-Do-It Book of Beekeeping by Richard Taylor that I thought was very appropriate for the situation:
“There are a few rules of thumb that are useful guides. One is that when you are confronted with some problem in the apiary and you do not know what to do, then do nothing. Matters are seldom made worse by doing nothing and are often made much worse by inept intervention.”
So figuring I had done enough damage I decided the best course of action was simply to let nature take its course and give the bees the chance to fix the situation. It appears that they did. I was quite nervous for a time, as my limited view from the observation windows of the hives shows a lot of drones, but no new brood comb that I could identify, and no new workers. However, it seems the situation has resolved itself and a couple of weeks ago I started seeing both brood and lots of young bees. So though I haven’t done a thorough inspection of the hives, and have not seen queens in either one, the evidence points to a laying queen in both.
With that problem behind me, I had to find something else to compulsively worry about, so I moved on to concern that with the drought we’ve been experiencing the bees might be running low on food. Since we’ve had a couple of days of below 90 degree weather I decided to take the opportunity to crack things open and check it out.
I started with the new hive and the first two frames I pulled out were mostly full of capped honey, so they have at least some stores to get them through. It was evening and still quite warm so I wasn’t going to do a complete inspection. I went ahead and put some foil in the bottom of the hive and poured some plain sugar on it. Bees will eat raw sugar if they are hungry and it is less messy and troublesome than syrup. I had a couple of large messes when I originally fed syrup and have decided from now on that they will get plain sugar, or hard sugar candy with pollen.
I moved to the other hive and found the unused portion of the hive filled with young bees. I think they move there to help cool the main hive body off in the hot weather. At any rate I pulled a few boards of half built comb and didn’t see much honey, or brood for that matter, but I’m fairly confident that there was plenty in the rest of the hive. Just to be on the safe side I gave them some sugar as well. Since I hadn’t opened the hive up for quite some time they had started joining all the comb together and making tunnels and chambers in the stuff. This is kind of a mess for managing the hive, but it is fascinating to me what they will do when left to their own devices.
So, at this point it seems I have two healthy hives. I’ve provided some food just in case, but I think they are doing well.