Distract-A-Bee*

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This is as far as I’ve been able to peek into my main hive body this year . This picture is from my first hive inspection of the year in March.

I haven’t been able to perform what I consider a complete hive inspection in ages due to a rookie mistake I made last year that allowed my bees to build a large section of burr comb in one of their boxes. They hung these combs from the the inner cover like stalactites, preventing me from getting the cover off and peeking at the queen. Thanks to last year’s blunder I haven’t seen my queen since the day I installed her.

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This is what the half-full box looks like from above. Lots of activity.

Last week Matt had a brainstorm that will not only allow me to make complete hive inspections (that is, to look at every frame and to locate the queen) but also to harvest some honey! He suggested I steal one of his guitar strings and slice the inner cover off that box like cutting through cheese.

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Every frame in the half-full hive body looks like this on both sides.

So last Friday I took every box off the hive stand and completely rearranged them. (Imagine the consternation in there! I just took their house apart story by story and switched them around to suit myself.) The box with the “stalactite” in it was the original box and therefore it’s packed full of brood, pollen, and nectar (hot damn is it heavy!). I put it on the bottom, knelt behind it, and sawed through all that gooey propolis and beeswax with the guitar string wrapped around my little fists like I was garroting the poor insects. With the inner cover off I was able to put the next hive body (another name for a box intended for the bees to reside and raise young) on top of that. This box is only about half full of capped cells. Then I laid down the queen excluder and on top of that, a shallow box. The queen excluder will prevent her from laying eggs in that shallow box, which I want the girls to fill with honey for me.

Oh, and for those of you keeping track: still no stings!

— Amanda

*Title of this post is the name of one of the subsidiary companies of Confuse-A-Cat Limited from Episode 5 of Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Man’s Crisis of Identity in the Latter Half of the 20th Century.

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