Sunday, June 5, 2011

How Much is Too Much Bee Business?

Yesterday our original, twice-swarmed hive saw a flurry of activity at the front of the hive. Bees landing on the front face, many bees hanging out at the entrance, bees seeming to not have a work agenda, like being heavily-laden with honey and coming in for a slow landing, or the pollen-legged type bringing flower protein to the colony. It looked as though there may be some robbing going on. There were even some bees much larger than I'm use to seeing coming and going. What is going on? My initial guess was that they were being robbed. And since our smallest weakest hive seemed to be experiencing the same activity lately and had around 15 or so dead bees on the landing, it seemed a plausible explanation.

Hive Covered With Wet Sheet
Launching into action, I swiftly reduced the entrance to the smallest possible size, and placed a wet sheet over the hive to deter any foreign subversive activity. Apparently the "home bees" are still able to find their way in while others are not. Within the hour crazy bee activity had ceased and the weather had turned back to normal Humboldt summer weather, cold and wet. So, I removed the sheet.

Was my assessment correct? There weren't dead bees all over and I couldn't really distinguish any fighting activity at the entrance. Was it just that we were experiencing a moment of nice weather for a change and even the drones decided they could come out for a quick look for those virgin queens some 60 feet above our heads? Such good weather that the activity was heavily increased from the norm? The big bees I saw, in retrospect were most likely our own drones since drones are probably not robbers...they're lovers, not fighters.

Oh the angst of an ignorant newbee keeper.

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